Those tuning in to the Hillary Clinton Benghazi hearings Thursday might have been surprised to hear one name coming up again and again: Sidney Blumenthal. As NBC News explains, Blumenthal is a longtime ally of both Bill and Hillary Clinton—in fact he covered Bill Clinton as a reporter in Arkansas and later was hired as an adviser to the president in 1997. When Hillary Clinton tried to hire him at the State Department, the White House blocked the move, but that didn't prevent him from exchanging plenty of emails with her. He even had her private email address, unlike ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed in the Benghazi attack. “Help us understand how Sidney Blumenthal had that kind of access to you, Madam Secretary, but the ambassador did not,” said Trey Gowdy, chairman of the Benghazi panel, reports the Washington Post. Because he's a friend and confidant, she answered.
Blumenthal sent her lots of advice, she said, some of which she took into account and some she didn't. "I think that the sharing of information from an old friend, that I did not take at face value, that I sent on to those who were experts, is something that makes sense," Clinton said. "But it was certainly not in any way a primary source of or the predominant understanding that we had of what was going on in Libya and what we needed to be doing." Gowdy pressed her repeatedly on whether the emails were "unsolicited," reading off some of her responses to him such as "thanks and keep them coming," reports Mediaite. Clinton responded that they began as unsolicited, but she sometimes encouraged him to send more. “I don’t know what this line of questioning does to help us get to the bottom of deaths of four Americans,” Clinton said. Afterward, Gowdy and Democrat Elijah Cummings got into a shouting match over the Blumenthal emails, with Cummings asking that all of them be released for context. (An earlier Post analysis gave "Four Pinocchios" to the claim that Clinton relied on Blumenthal for intelligence.)