What to Know as Clinton Testifies on Benghazi
It gets underway Thursday morning
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 22, 2015 7:05 AM CDT
Hillary Clinton speaks during the CNN Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas.   (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

(Newser) – Hillary Clinton dodged one obstacle in her quest to the Democratic nomination Wednesday when Joe Biden opted not to run. Can she remove another Thursday? She'll be testifying before a House panel investigating the Benghazi attack, an investigation that incorporates her use of a private email server as secretary of state. The daylong hearing begins at 10am Eastern. Some things to know:

  • The basics: The panel is looking into whether the State Department should have been able to prevent the 2012 attack on the US compound in Libya that left Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead. Democrats say it's a political witch hunt, a point reinforced when House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy suggested the panel was set up to hurt Clinton in the polls.
  • New emails: Committee chair Trey Gowdy says the panel has reviewed thousands of previously unseen emails from Stevens and plans to use them to grill Clinton on why security wasn't bolstered in advance, reports ABC News. But he says his approach may "shock you with fairness," reports the AP.

  • What both sides want: For Republicans, it's to "placate their base without appearing overly partisan," writes the New York Times. They'd love to induce a Clinton gaffe, but being "overzealous" will give critics ammunition and undermine that. For Clinton, the "biggest challenge is to appear composed and patient during many hours of questioning." In 2013 congressional testimony on the same issue, she got exasperated at points.
  • No joke: One piece of advice for Clinton in a Politico roundup is to avoid joking about the email server. She's done so previously, with poor results. More serious: Don't lie or even mislead, because a future indictment could result.
  • At stake: An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll finds that 44% of Americans are not satisfied with Clinton's Benghazi response, and 47% say her email server is an important factor in their vote.