The Republican senator whose questioning about the Benghazi attacks prompted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to erupt in anger tried a similar line of inquiry with her likely successor, Sen. John Kerry, on Thursday.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) had pressed Clinton about whether there were protests before the deadly September assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission until she finally shouted, “We have four dead Americans…what difference at this point does it make?”
Johnson tried again on Thursday during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s secretary of state confirmation hearing for Kerry (D-Mass.).
“I think it makes a big difference, I think we have the right to know what happened,” Johnson told Kerry. “Do you agree with that or do you agree that’s yesterday’s news?”
Kerry responded that if Johnson was “trying to get any daylight between me and Secretary Clinton, that’s not going to happen today.”
Johnson demanded to know how soon Kerry knew there had been no protests in Benghazi and asked, “will you work with me then on an ongoing basis so we can get that behind us, so we can find out what actually happened?”
“In all fairness, we do know what happened. I think that it is very clear,” Kerry said. He then asked Johnson whether he had been at a briefing where tapes of the attacks were presented, to which Johnson answered said no.
“Well, there was a briefing with tapes, which we all saw, those of us who went to it, which made it crystal clear,” Kerry said. “We sat for several hours with our intel folks, who described to us precisely what we were seeing. We saw the events unfold. We had a very complete and detailed description.”
Johnson said “we know what happened because we have reports — what we don’t know is why we were misled.”
Kerry objected to Johnson’s use of the word “mislead.”
“That implies an intent to mislead you,” he said.