NBC Laments 'Grueling Day' of Benghazi Testimony for 'Stellar' Clinton

Wrapping up a report on Wednesday's NBC Today about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's upcoming congressional testimony on the Benghazi terrorist attack, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell sympathetically observed: "It will be a grueling day, first in the Senate, then in the House. Not how the Secretary of State had planned to wind up what is widely viewed as a stellar term as the nation's top diplomat." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

At the top of the segment, Mitchell seemed to lament that Clinton would have to endure such questioning after recent health problems: "The Secretary of State has had to deal with a serious illness, amidst swirling and discredited conspiracy theories, but is now finally able to answer questions about security failures in Benghazi. After a fall, a concussion, and a blood clot, Hillary Clinton will face questions today Republicans have wanted to ask for months."

Mitchell also fretted over the political fallout for the Obama administration: "Benghazi quickly became a political nightmare for the White House. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice told Meet the Press and other shows the attackers were likely protesters, not terrorists....Rice was relying on CIA talking points that proved to be wrong, derailing her chances of becoming secretary of state."

Despite the sympathy for Clinton, Mitchell did outline the serious questions raised about the attack:

What did she [Clinton] know about security failures in Benghazi? Did she know her diplomats had requested more protection, request her aides had rejected? Had she seen a final cable for help from Ambassador Chris Stevens sent to her on September 11th, the day of the assault that killed him and three other Americans?

Sound bites were also featured of prior congressional testimony that detailed the security failures surrounding the attack. A clip played of former regional security officer Eric Nordstrom explaining: "It was abundantly clear we were not going to get resources until the aftermath of an incident."

A clip also played of former Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, relaying a report on what went wrong: "The security posture of the special mission compound was inadequate for the threat environment in Benghazi and, in fact, grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place that night."


Here is a full transcript of Mitchell's January 23 report:

7:00AM ET TEASE:

MATT LAUER: Tough questions. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's long-awaited testimony on that deadly assault in Benghazi set to begin this morning. Did the State Department ignore calls for more security?

7:07AM ET SEGMENT:

LAUER: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton faces some intense grilling on Capitol Hill today, as she gives her long-awaited testimony on that deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell has the latest on this. Andrea, Good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: On the Hot Seat; Secretary of State Clinton Testifies on Benghazi]

ANDREA MITCHELL: Good morning, Matt. The Secretary of State has had to deal with a serious illness, amid swirling and discredited conspiracy theories, but is now finally able to answer questions about security failures in Benghazi.

After a fall, a concussion, and a blood clot, Hillary Clinton will face questions today Republicans have wanted to ask for months. What did she know about security failures in Benghazi? Did she know her diplomats had requested more protection, request her aides had rejected? Had she seen a final cable for help from Ambassador Chris Stevens sent to her on September 11th, the day of the assault that killed him and three other Americans?

HILLARY CLINTON: We bring home four Americans who gave their lives for our country and our values.

MITCHELL: Benghazi quickly became a political nightmare for the White House. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice told Meet the Press and other shows the attackers were likely protesters, not terrorists.

SUSAN RICE: What happened in Benghazi was, in fact, initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo.

MITCHELL: Rice was relying on CIA talking points that proved to be wrong, derailing her chances of becoming secretary of state.

JOHN MCCAIN: And this administration has either been guilty of colossal incompetence or engaged in a cover-up.

MITCHELL: Former security officers from Benghazi told Congress repeated requests for help had been turned down.

ERIC NORDSTROM [FORMER REGIONAL SECURITY OFFICER]: It was abundantly clear we were not going to get resources until the aftermath of an incident.

MITCHELL: But Clinton's sudden illness prevented her from testifying.

JOHN KERRY [SEN. D-MA]: Secretary Clinton is recovering from a serious virus and concussion.

MITCHELL: Leaving unanswered a scathing report from an independent review board.

ADM. MIKE MULLEN [FORMER CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF]: The security posture of the special mission compound was inadequate for the threat environment in Benghazi and, in fact, grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place that night.

MITCHELL: Today, Clinton will finally report back to Congress.

ROBERT MENENDEZ [SEN. D-NJ]: This is about building upon the review board's recommendations, which the Secretary and the Department of State have fully accepted.

MITCHELL: It will be a grueling day, first in the Senate, then in the House. Not how the Secretary of State had planned to wind up what is widely viewed as a stellar term as the nation's top diplomat. Matt.

LAUER: Andrea Mitchell in Washington. Andrea, thank you very much.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC