Hillary Clinton Testifies At Heated Benghazi Hearing

"We should debate on fact, not fear."

On Thursday in a detour from her campaign trail, Hillary Clinton testified at the Benghazi hearing in Washington, D.C. The former secretary of state revealed her frustration with the partisanship in the Republican-led probe on the events in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012. "We should debate on the basis of fact, not fear," Clinton urged, calling on the committee to "rise above partisanship."

During the hearing, Clinton spoke emotionally of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, one of the few killed in the attack. She also told the committee that she took responsibility for the Benghazi attack

"After the attacks I stood next to President Obama as Marines carried [Stevens'] casket," she said. "I took responsibility, and as part of that before I left office I launched reforms to better protect our people in the field and help reduce the chance of another tragedy happening in the future."

Clinton said that the accusations that she was in part responsible for the death of Stevens, a personal friend, "personally painful" and "deeply distressing." As Clinton responded to questions in a measured, collected tone, the committee descended into a shouting match between Republican Trey Gowdy and two Democrats, The New York Times reported.

Clinton's hours-long testimony is another chapter in the ongoing saga that is the Benghazi hearing.

Three years ago, a group of armed men stormed the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, killing four Americans including Ambassador Stevens. Republicans say the Obama administration ignored intelligence warnings before the attack, declined to call in military support during and deliberately covered it up after. The hearings have centered around those claims.

However, prior independent investigations concluded that those allegations were unfounded. The Democrats have criticized the hearing as an attempt to harm Clinton's bid at the presidency rather than to actually find out the truth. 

The hearing has worked to Republican advantage. The committee (created by soon-to-be-former House Speaker John Boehner) discovered that Clinton used a personal email account on a private server to conduct business as state secretary instead of an official state.gov email account.

But last month, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy suggested that the hearing was bringing the Clinton campaign's poll numbers down. Many saw the gaffe as proof that the entire investigation was an attempt to undermine Clinton's presidential bid.

Cover image via Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images