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What Hillary Clinton really said about the Benghazi subpoena

House Select Committee on Benghazi subpoena of Hillary Clinton

House Select Committee on Benghazi subpoena of Hillary Clinton

House Republicans say they've caught Hillary Clinton in a baldfaced Benghazi lie.

House Speaker John Boehner and Select Committee on Benghazi Committee Chair Trey Gowdy couldn't wait to get the news out to reporters that Clinton said she hadn't been subpoenaed for the email on her personal server when they've got evidence — a subpoena signed by the House clerk — that says otherwise.

But this one's a particularly absurd gimmick, even for a committee that is selectively leaking from depositions and documents to justify its existence. If there was a more extreme category of dissembling than "pants on fire," now would be the time for Politifact to roll it out on the House Republicans.

It all started when Clinton, appearing on CNN earlier this week, said "I've never had a subpoena."

Yesterday, Gowdy released a subpoena he'd sent her on March 4.

House Select Committee on Benghazi

"The committee has issued several subpoenas, but I have not sought to make them public," Gowdy said in a statement released by the committee. "I would not make this one public now, but after Secretary Clinton falsely claimed the committee did not subpoena her, I have no choice in order to correct the inaccuracy."

Clinton was evasive on a variety of topics during the CNN interview, including the handling of her email, which she kept on a personal server during her time as secretary of state. In 2014 she turned over 55,000 pages of email to the State Department and wiped the rest from the server — a point of contention in the Benghazi investigation and with advocates for government transparency. But she didn't lie about the subpoena.

If she said she didn't get a subpoena — and one was sent to her — how is she not lying?

The problem for Gowdy is that Clinton clearly wasn't responding to the question of whether she'd ever been subpoenaed by the Benghazi Committee but whether she'd been subpoenaed before she wiped the emails from her server.

The first transcript CNN released suggests the former, but a review of the videotape makes it clear that Clinton was speaking specifically to whether she'd erased email to evade a subpoena.

Here's the "rush" transcript CNN sent out right after Clinton's interview with Brianna Keilar on Tuesday.


What that transcript missed was some of the cross-talk, in which Keilar clearly said Clinton was accused of having "while facing a subpoena, deleted emails."

Clinton had turned over the email she deemed work-related to the State Department at the end of last year. The fact that she unilaterally chose which email belonged to the government and which could be deleted is a problem for her. And, as I wrote for Vox, her interview with Keilar was generally a study in evasion. But she didn't lie about the subpoena.

Hillary Clinton on Email: "Everything I did was permitted"