A meme critical of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has recently been making the rounds on social media. The meme is headlined "I’m not ready for Hillary" -- a takeoff on the PAC that supported Clinton during the months leading up to her official announcement -- and proceeds to list five reasons to oppose the former secretary of state.
In this article, we’ll check one of those claims -- that Clinton "refuses to testify before Congress about what really happened at Benghazi where four Americans died."
As most readers will recall, on Sept. 11, 2012, Islamic extremists attacked U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, killing U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Clinton was secretary of state at the time, and critics -- many of them Republicans -- have insisted there’s more to be learned about the attacks.
However, the claim in the meme struck us as odd, since Clinton has already testified twice on Benghazi, both on Jan. 23, 2013. On that day, she testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the morning and before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the afternoon.
In fact, this produced some memorable and widely replayed video when Clinton offered an exasperated comment in response to questioning by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. "With all due respect," she said, "the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator."
So the meme’s claim seems wrong on its face. We could not track down the meme’s creator, and we did not receive a response to an email sent to an author who wrote about it for a conservative website.
There is a committee -- the House Select Committee on Benghazi chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. -- that’s still investigating the matter. The committee and Clinton have indeed had some trouble coming to an agreement about her appearance before the committee. But the bones of contention are primarily logistical, not because Clinton "refuses to testify."
Quite the contrary: In a letter written to the committee on May 4, 2015, Clinton’s lawyer, David E. Kendall, made that clear.
"Please let me know what date the Secretary may appear before the Committee to publicly testify again about the attacks on the U.S. government facilities in Benghazi, and to answer questions the Committee may have about her email use at the same hearing -- whether that be during the week of May 18th or at a later date. On such a day, she will stay as long as necessary to answer the Committee's questions, but will not prolong the Committee's efforts further by appearing on two separate occasions when one will suffice," Kendall wrote.
Committee Democrats said that Clinton had made clear as early as December 2014 that she was willing to testify before Gowdy’s panel.
As it happened, May came and went without an appearance by Clinton, but the campaign said on July 25 that she would be appearing before the committee instead in October 2015. The two parties are still negotiating the final logistics.
But differing over logistical negotiations are not the same thing as refusing to testify. The Benghazi panel itself acknowledged in a July 25 statement that the issue has not been whether Clinton would testify, but how.
Citing Kendall’s letter, the panel noted that "while insisting she would appear only a single time before the Committee, (he said) that Secretary Clinton would answer all questions the Committee had about Libya, Benghazi, and her unusual email arrangement with herself."
A past source of friction between the Clinton camp and the committee -- to what extent Clinton’s "unusual email arrangement" should be subject to questioning -- is smoothed over by now. The Clinton camp told PolitiFact that they are "in agreement" with the committee’s view that, as the committee put it in its statement, Clinton’s email arrangement "falls within the scope of the Select Committee's jurisdiction."
A social media meme says that Clinton "refuses to testify before Congress about what really happened at Benghazi where four Americans died."
This makes no sense, since she has already testified twice, in public and on live television, about the Benghazi attack. Moreover, we find no evidence that Clinton has been opposed to testifying before Gowdy’s panel. What has kept her from testifying so far are disagreements between the two camps over scheduling and formatting -- not over whether she would testify or not. Any past disagreements about the scope of her testimony appear to have been resolved as of this writing. We rate the claim False.