Tierney Sneed

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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If one knew nothing about the 2012 Benghazi attack before Thursday’s special committee hearing, he or she would think that Sid Blumenthal -- a former aide to President Clinton -- had led the attacks.

Time and time again, Republicans returned to Hillary Clinton’s relationship with Blumenthal, who has never been in Libya nor served in Clinton’s Department of State. On numerous times they brought up the emails that he sent her, the influence of his advice, where his missives were passed along and whether his communications were truly unsolicited.

Their justification for their focus on a side character in Clinton's universe seemed Clinton emailed Blumenthal -- a personal friend of the Clintons-- more than she did Ambassador Christopher Stevens, one of the four Americans killed in the attack. The name Sidney Blumenthal has become something of a dog whistle in right-wing circles -- for Clinton cronyism, rank politicization, and self-dealing -- but it remained unclear after hours of testimony how his emails further implicated Clinton in the Benghazi tragedy.

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Former Security of State Hillary Clinton channeled her righteous anger on Thursday to defend the integrity of security officials who protect U.S. diplomats across the globe.

"I would put them up against anybody," Clinton told a GOP congressman during testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. "And I just cannot allow any comment to be in the record in any way criticizing or disparaging them."

The exchange began when Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) brought up their abilities during Thursday's Benghazi Committee hearing:

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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pushed back at Rep. Susan Brooks' (R-IN) questions about the seeming dearth of emails in the months leading up to the 2012 Benghazi attack by saying she did not conduct most of her business by email.

At the House Benghazi Committee hearing Thursday, Brooks presented Clinton with stacks of email from 2011 and 2012, with the 2011 stack being noticeably larger. The implication from Brooks was that Libya had fallen off Clinton's radar by the time of the Sept. 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans.

"Well, congresswoman, I did not conduct most of the business that I did on behalf of our country on email," Clinton said. "I conducted it in meetings. I read massive amounts of memos, a great deal of classified information. I made a lot of secure phone calls. I was in and out of the White House all the time. There were a lot of things that happened that I was aware of and that I was reacting to. If you were to be in my office in the State Department, I didn't have a computer. I did not do the vast majority of my work on email."

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House Benghazi committee Chairman Rep. Trey Growdy (R-SC) bashed other GOP-led investigations into the 2012 terrorist attack in Libya on Thursday in an effort to defend the existence of his own.

The Select Committee on Benghazi has been under scrutiny since some Republicans suggested political motivations or effects of the investigation as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton runs for President.

In his opening remarks ahead of Clinton's testimony on Thursday, Gowdy launched into the questions he said the committee sought to answer.

"Even after an Accountability Review Board and half a dozen congressional investigations, these and other questions still lingered. These questions lingered because those previous investigations were not thorough," Gowdy said. "These questions lingered because those previous investigations were narrow in scope and either incapable or unwilling to access the facts and evidence necessary to answer all relevant questions."

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Updated at 9:15 p.m. ET

Members of the House Freedom Caucus -- the conservative hardliners who have been roiling GOP leadership in recent weeks -- emerged from a meeting Wednesday on Rep. Paul Ryan's speaker candidacy willing to give him their "support" as a group. In a caucus vote, about two-thirds of the members said they were comfortable supporting Ryan as speaker, according to those present. However, they did not reach the 80 percent support line that the caucus requires to give its endorsement. After the meeting members also said the group would not concede to the conditions Ryan has given publicly to accept the speakership.

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Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) made clear what would need to happen for him to jump into the speaker's race. But the conservative hardliners that have been roiling their own leadership aren't about to make it easy for him

"With a lot of the folks in the Freedom Caucus, he's still up in the air," Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) -- speaking of the group blamed for pushing Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to resign and causing his presumed successor House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to withdraw his candidacy -- told TPM.

"Most folks have never been used to someone applying for a job and telling you, 'I don't do windows, I don't do beds," Salmon said

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Fresh off of insulting the entire state of New Hampshire, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) gave reporters his latest lesson in the dark arts of political trolling by endorsing Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) for next House speaker. Reid told reporters Tuesday that he hoped Ryan was elected to the leadership position and went as far as to say he was a "fan" of the House Ways and Means chairman.

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A GOP effort to repeal part of Obamacare that could get farther than any prior attempt is being opposed by the major conservative group for not going far enough to dismantle the law. Heritage Action for America -- the lobbying arm of the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation -- issued a statement threatening to consider the vote on the House bill, expected Friday, a key vote for conservative members.

In the statement, communications director Dan Holler accused GOP leadership of "putting their members in a terrible position," as the legislation leaves in place some aspects of Obamacare, and argued that by voting in favor of the bill, Republicans are "undermining any serious effort to repeal the law in 2017."

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The moderate wing of the GOP is concerned that if the House cannot coalesce behind Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) or someone like him as speaker, some of the more pragmatic members of the caucus will retire, the National Journal reported Monday.

“De­pend­ing on how this shakes out, you may see some Main Street mem­bers re­tire,” Sarah Cham­ber­lain -- chief op­er­at­ing and fin­an­cial of­ficer for the Republic­an Main Street Part­ner­ship, which supports moderate GOP lawmakers -- told the National Journal. "They’re hop­ing for a Ry­an-type can­did­ate. But if it’s not and it be­comes a huge mess, why be sit­ting here?”

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States that refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act are now paying the price, literally.

A new Kaiser Family Foundation report released last week suggests that the Republican-controlled non-expansion states are seeing their share of Medicaid costs rise more sharply than expansion states.

The trend undercuts a popular argument against the Medicaid expansion in states where Republican leaders continue to resist opting into the program, under which the federal government pays 100 percent of costs through 2016 and at least 90 percent share after.

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