On October 23, following nearly 11 hours of questioning of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton by members of the bipartisan Special Committee on Benghazi, Democrats assembled in the Ways and Means Committee Room appeared to be jubilant.
Clinton was seen, for example, to warmly embrace Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) who had spent the hours of the hearing questioning the motivations and tactics of the Republican majority in questioning the former Secretary of State over her role in the response to the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack.
The progressive DailyKos website, even suggested that Cummings may now be a a viable running mate for Clinton, despite earlier speculation that she might instead choose Secretary of Health and Human Services Julian Castro, the former Mexican-American mayor of San Antonio TX. Other Democrats in the audience included liberal Democrat Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston TX, who patiently sat behind Clinton within camera range throughout the hours of testimony. She could also be seen happily greeting Clinton when the committee adjourned. Other smiling Democrats and supporters were on hand to greet Clinton.
Also present were: David Kendall, Clinton’s personal attorney for two decades, who received a Top Secret clearance to review information related to the House Benghazi investigation, kept a secure thumb drive with copies of her emails on it in his office; Katherine Turner, Kendall's partner at Williams & Connolly law firm; longtime Clinton aide Cheryl Mills; Clinton campaign staffer Heather Samuelson; campaign press secretary Nick Merrill; and Connolly Keigher, campaign trip director. Others present were Clinton’s top aide at State, Huma Abedin, and senior aide Jake Sullivan.
Writing at POLITICO, Annie Karni wrote of the upshot of the hearing, “The remarkable week puts Clinton in better standing than she was at this point eight years ago, when Barack Obama changed the course of the election with an electrifying speech at the Iowa Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. It was a pivotal moment that marked the beginning of the end of Clinton’s presidential hopes that cycle. Today, as she gears up for that same dinner this weekend, Clinton appears to be the one enjoying a pivotal, game-changing moment.”
Clinton’s staff at campaign headquarters in Brooklyn were reportedly "exhausted, vindicated and happy" by the end of the hearing. Press aide Josh Schwerin tweeted, "exclusive: Post #BenghaziHearing footage of @HillaryClinton." He featured a GIF from Clinton’s "Saturday Night Live" appearance when she fist-bumped Kate McKinnon, the actress who plays here. Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm gushed about her heroine, “…she answered every question with the grace and a commanding knowledge of a true leader." She added that Clinton’s successful appearance was important so that she can “speak to the issues that people care about.”
Republicans appeared crestfallen by comparison. Rep. Trey Gowdy, the Republican who chaired the committee who verbally sparred with both Clinton and Cummings, was seen to be solemn and drawn. In the cloakroom, Republicans were appeared to be subdued, tweeted reporter Robert Costa. Some privately said that Clinton was “formidable” in her testimony.
The FBI, however, continues to investigate Clinton's use of a private email server while serving as Secretary of State. More emails are expected to emerge to the end of 2015.
Meanwhile, Clinton is shown to have gained a significant lead over fellow Democrat Sen. Bernie Sanders in the latest Iowa poll from Quinnipiac. Now that Vice President Joe Biden has decided to forego presidential campaigning, Clinton now has an 11-point lead over Sanders, 51 percent to 40 percent.