Politics & Government

Feinstein on Clinton: ‘I could see her across the table from Putin’

Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, before the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. AP

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was “presidential” in her testimony in a House of Representatives hearing this week and would have no trouble facing leaders such as Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.

Feinstein said Clinton’s performance in the House Select Committee on Benghazi Thursday left no doubt about her ability to do the job she’s seeking.

“I think she showed a drive and a staying power and a motivation,” Feinstein said in a conference call with reporters Friday. “I could see her across the table from Putin.”

Feinstein, as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, held more than a dozen hearings into the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and found nothing to implicate Clinton, who was Secretary of State at the time. The findings were unanimously endorsed by the Democrats and Republicans on the Senate committee.

Feinstein and other Senate Democrats said the House hearing revealed nothing new and it was time for Republicans to pull the plug. The panel is the eighth government inquiry into the attack, in which four Americans were killed, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

While the various probes have cleared Clinton, they have raised questions about whether U.S. diplomatic facilities around the globe are adequately protected.

One of the recommendations of Feinstein’s Senate investigation was improving security at those compounds.

“I think the best thing we could do is end these hearings,” she said, “save some money and put it toward security at these facilities.”

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., called the 11-hour hearing “abusive” and “disrespectful,” and said House Republicans failed to accomplish what some in their own ranks have admitted was the purpose of the inquiry.

“They certainly didn’t do any damage to Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president,” she said. “And if that was their goal, they got an ‘F.’”

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said the effort distracted lawmakers from pressing policy matters, such as raising the debt limit, keeping the government funded and passing a long-term transportation bill.

On Thursday, as the Benghazi hearing commanded much of the attention of official Washington, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved a six-year bill to authorize road, bridge and transit projects, the first such legislation in a decade.

“That’s what the House needs to do,” Shaheen said. “Stop the partisan maneuvering and get to the work of the country.”

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