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Tuesday
Jan292013

Hillary Clinton Stands by Benghazi Testimony

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In her final television interview as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton told ABC's Cynthia McFadden that she is "flattered and honored" at the intense interest in whether she might run for president in 2016.

But Clinton maintained that right now she's "not focused" on a presidential campaign; instead she said she wants to return to a "normal" life when she steps down from office on Friday.

Clinton's first order of business, she said, will be sleep.

"I hope I get to sleep in," she told McFadden with a laugh. "It will be the first time in many years. I have no office to go to, no schedule to keep, no work to do. That will probably last a few days then I will be up and going with my new projects," she said.

"I have been working or attending school full-time since I was 13. This is going to be new for me. I don't know how I'm going to react to it, to be honest."

Clinton has had no trouble articulating her reaction to what has arguably been the darkest chapter of her tenure as secretary of state: the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed.

Secretary Clinton had a heated exchange with Republican Senator Ron Johnson during her five hours of testimony before Congress about the attack last week. Johnson accused the administration of misleading the American people about the cause of the attack, when U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, on Sunday political talk shows, blamed it on protesters.

Clinton snapped back at Johnson, "Four Americans are dead. What difference does it make?" For that, she has been sharply criticized by some conservatives.

Clinton said she "absolutely" stands by her response to Johnson, maintaining that the administration has been transparent with the information it knew, when it was available. Clinton said partisan politics have no place in a response to a terrorist attack against Americans.

"I believe that we should in public life, whether you're in the administration or the Congress, de-politicize crisis and work together to figure out what happened, what we can do to prevent it and then put into place both the institutional changes and the budgetary changes that are necessary, " she said.

"When someone tries to put into a partisan lens, when they focus not on the fact that we have such a terrible event happening with four dead Americans but instead what did somebody say on a Sunday morning talk show? That to me is not in keeping with the seriousness of the issue and the obligation we all have as public servants."

[READ the Transcript from Hillary Clinton's Final Television Interview as Secretary of State]

Asked about her health, Clinton said her recent illness, concussion and blood clot were all a surprise.

"When I got sick and fainted and hit my head I was so surprised, and I thought I would just get up and go to work. And thankfully I had very good medical care and doctors who said, 'No we'd better do an MRI, we'd better do this, we'd better do that,'" she said, calling herself "lucky."

"I know now how a split-second of being beset by a virus and dehydrated, what it can do to you."

Though she confirmed she is wearing special glasses to help with double vision, a lingering issue following her illness, Clinton said that she expects to be fully recovered and operating at "full speed" soon.

The secretary told McFadden that if she does decide to run, she would have "no problem" making her health records public.

"Of course, that goes with the territory," she said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio