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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Tea Party hardliners are hoping they can use the chaos in the House leadership to insulate themselves from a Chamber of Commerce seeking to dethrone them. But the Chamber is show no signs of backing off, given the far right's obstruction of many of its key priorities.

Speaking to reporters Friday in Washington at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, Chamber President and CEO Thomas Donohue said it planned to "double down" in fighting the opposition it faces from hard right groups. He scoffed at reports that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who is expected to be elected to speaker next week, had discussed with members of the House Freedom Caucus blocking the influence of the Chamber of Commerce in primary challenges. The Freedom Caucus -- the conservative group of members that have rocked the GOP conference -- has signaled that a speaker, as a condition of their support, would need to be willing to step in to block outside groups from funding candidates who challenge them.

"I'm glad about that," Donohue said, pointing to his earlier comments about doubling down in opposing the hard right.

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Over 10 hours into the Benghazi Committee's hearing on Thursday, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) got the first applause line.

As the energy to the room slowed into a slog over discussion of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private email server, Cummings took his turn in the third round of questioning to issue an impassioned indictment of the committee's direction.

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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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