Opinion

Hillary was not sworn in for her Benghazi testimony

It now appears that the testimony offered by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in committees of both chambers of Congress on Jan. 23, and which was contradicted this week by that of the Benghazi whistleblowers, was not presented under oath.

benghazi-whistleblowers-taking-oath
Three Benghazi whistleblowers, Thompson, Hicks and Nordstrom, being sworn in before offering their House Oversight Committee testimony. Photo credit washingtontimes.com

One photograph that came out of Wednesday’s hearing in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that will always remain with me was one taken before any testimony was proffered. It depicted the three State Department whistleblowers, all standing with their right hands raised, swearing to tell the truth.

There’s a certain solemnity to this simple act, that adds real gravity to the proceedings and reminds those taking the oath that there will be real consequences should they lie.

Although Clinton’s January testimony in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee may have misled Congress and the public, it was not apparently offered under oath and is therefore cannot be considered perjury, Breitbart News reported.

Breitbart’s Joel Pollak notes the following distinction:

Perjury and lying to Congress are two different crimes. Perjury, defined under 18 U.S.C. § 1621, requires violation of an oath. The crime of making a false statement to Congress, defined under 18 U.S.C. § 1001, covers lying about or concealing a “a material fact” in “any investigation or review, conducted pursuant to the authority of any committee, subcommittee, commission or office of the Congress, consistent with applicable rules of the House or Senate.”

Condi Rice being sworn in
Then-National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice being sworn in prior to her testimony before the 9/11 commission on Apr. 8, 2004. Photo credit www.breitbart.com

Aides from both chambers confirmed that “We checked with the committee and she [Clinton] wasn’t sworn in.” The House aide confirmed, however, that “all witnesses testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, including Secretary Clinton, are under a legal obligation to tell the truth. Any misrepresentation to the Committee in the context of a review or investigation is a violation of law.”

The following interview of Fox News legal and judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano confirms this, but I keep coming back to the solemnity the oath carries with it. If a witness, any witness, wants his testimony to be taken seriously, he should insist upon being sworn in first.

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