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Review chairman: Clinton didn't make Benghazi call

By Philip Elliott

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, May 12 2013 2:35 p.m. MDT

"I was surprised today that they did not probe Secretary Clinton in detail," Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said, of the review board.

The hourslong hearing produced no major revelation but renewed interest in the attacks that happened during the lead-up to the November 2012 presidential election.

Even so, Republicans showed little interest in dropping their investigation into what happened at the consulate, what might be done to prevent future such attacks and what political calculations went into rewriting talking points the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, used on news shows.

A series of emails that circulated between the State Department and the CIA led to weakened — and, in some cases, erroneous — language that Rice used to describe the assault during a series of five television interviews the Sunday after the attacks.

"I'd call it a cover-up," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.,who renewed his call for a select committee to investigate. "I would call it a cover-up in the extent that there was willful removal of information, which was obvious."

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence committee, said he expects more State Department officials to step forward and testify.

One Republican eyeing a White House run, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, told an audience in Iowa that he thinks the Benghazi attack "precludes Hillary Clinton from ever holding office."

Democrats said Republicans were looking to weaken her ahead of a potential 2016 campaign.

"This has been caught up in the 2016 presidential campaign, this effort to go after Hillary Clinton," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. "They want to bring her in because they think it's a good political show and I think that's unfortunate."

Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said the congressional probe "has just become a very, very partisan-focused, scandal-focused attack by the Republicans investigating this."

Pickering declined repeated opportunities to criticize Rice's now-debunked talking points that suggested the attacks were not terrorism.

"That was not in our mandate," Pickering said. "We were looking at the security, security warnings, security capacity, those kinds of things."

Democrats similarly did little to defend the mistaken talking points.

"This is one instance where you know it was what it was," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"There was no question this was a terrorist attack," Smith said.

Pickering spoke with CNN's "State of the Union," NBC's "Meet the Press" and CBS' "Face the Nation." Issa and Feinstein spoke with NBC. McCain spoke to ABC's "This Week." Ayotte and Durbin were on CBS. Smith spoke to "Fox News Sunday."

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