Senator Regrets What He Said About Hillary Clinton

By: From CNN's Ashley Killough
By: From CNN's Ashley Killough

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Ron Johnson on Thursday said he went a bit too far in speculating about why Hillary Clinton choked up during her Senate testimony on the U.S. Consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya.

"I did not accuse her of crying," Johnson said on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien." "I was responding to a question, Soledad. I probably speculated and I shouldn't of."

The senator from Wisconsin, who was elected with tea party support in 2010, questioned Wednesday whether Clinton's emotional moments on Capitol Hill Wednesday were nothing but an aversion strategy.

"I think she just decided before she was going to describe emotionally the four dead Americans, the heroes, and use that as her trump card to get out of the questions. It was a good way of getting out of really having to respond to me," Johnson said in an interview with BuzzFeed.

While Clinton did tear up in her comments-talking about those killed and their families–she also erupted in anger at one point when Johnson grilled her about the erroneous, initial talking points used to explain the cause of the attack to the public. While it was first said to have been spurred by a spontaneous protest over an anti-Islam film, the administration later defined the violence as a planned terrorist attack.

"With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans," Clinton said in response to Johnson's repeated questions. "Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator."

Her quote–"What difference does it make?"–quickly went viral, with some conservatives using it as an attack line on Twitter.

Speaking Thursday, Johnson stood by his questions, saying it was "important that we should have obtained those answers right away" and accusing the administration of "playing election politics, no doubt about it."

"I really think the American people do have an expectation that this president, this administration is honest with them, so I think it makes a great deal of difference," he added, arguing the State Department and intelligence community should have had a clearer picture of the events that unfolded.

Further pressed about Clinton's answers to his questions, Johnson said he did agree with Clinton on one point.

"The bottom line is I agree with Secretary Clinton that we need to understand what happened so we can prevent it in the future," he said.

Following her appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Clinton gave testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee later in the day Wednesday.

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