When Did The Issa - Hillary Relationship Go South?

Darrell Issa

The same day yet another House Republican investigation into the attack in Benghazi debunked tired conservative myths, The Hill excerpts a piece of Amie Parnes and Jonathan Allen's book HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton, detailing an interesting twist in the relationship between Darrell Issa and the former Secretary of State.

“When the call came in at three o'clock in the morning, the failure wasn't viewed, at least as of today, as Secretary Clinton's. It was really an Obama failure,” the GOP House Oversight Committee Chair told the journalists in December 2012. “Her legacy is mostly intact for 2016, if she chooses.”

“The front end of it, Hillary's part of it, was very good,” he continued. “I don't think she'd lie to me. In that sense, I trust her like any politician and particularly any diplomat - every word within a statement has to be carefully made sure you heard it correctly.”

The Hill also cites Issa favorably comparing Hillary Clinton to other Obama officials.

“When you look at Eric Holder, I do not trust him. I do not believe he is trustworthy. I do no believe he is honest,” he said. “In the case of Secretary Clinton, I think her personal standing - her legacy of tough but honest, diplomatic but not disingenuous - I think it's important to her.”

So if Darrell Issa had such a positive view of Hillary Clinton in December 2012, it raises the intriguing question of when the relationship went south. A look at the public record would suggest this change might have taken place the following spring, when Republicans and the conservative media shifted their ire from the President to Hillary Clinton in anticipation of her Presidential campaign.

In April 2013, with the release of a Benghazi investigation from five Republican congressional chairman which mentioned Hillary Clinton 30 times and mentioned the President only 11, came Issa's first major attack on Hillary Clinton's credibility -- and one that represented a huge embarrassment for the GOP.

The report referenced a cable from March 28, 2012, sent from then-U.S. Ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz to Hillary Clinton asking for additional security resources in Libya. A reply containing the Secretary's signature was delivered in April “acknowledge[ing] then-Ambassador Cretz's formal request for additional security assets but ordered the withdrawal of security elements to proceed as planned” from Libya.

On the day the report came out, Darrell Issa appeared on Fox & Friends claiming “The secretary of state was just wrong. She said she did not participate in this, and yet only a few months before the attack, she outright denied security in her signature in a cable, April 2012.” Issa and the conservative media believed they had caught Clinton in a lie, as she had testified before Congress in January “that the security cables did not come to my attention or above the assistant secretary level.”

Republicans and the conservative media trumpeted their evidence, but all they demonstrated was their own ignorance. As The Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler, who spent years covering the State Department, explained, “every single cable from Washington gets the secretary's name at the bottom, even if the secretary happens to be on the other side of the world at the time.”

There was no reason to believe Clinton ever saw or knew about the documents in question, yet to this day neither Issa nor any of his Republican colleagues have apologized for their smear job.