Parents of two Benghazi victims are suing Hillary Clinton for wrongful death and defamation — and claiming her compromised private email server may have been exploited by the attackers — in a potential bombshell court action that could give both scandals new legs during the heated presidential campaign.
The suit by Charles Woods and Patricia Smith, parents of Benghazi victims Tyrone Woods and Sean Smith, accuses Clinton of defaming the families during media interviews.
“During her campaign for President, Defendant Clinton has negligently, recklessly, and/or maliciously defamed Plaintiffs by either directly calling them liars, or by strongly implying that they are liars, in order to protect and enhance her public image and intimidate and emotionally harm and silence them not to speak up about the Benghazi attack on at least four separate occasions,” Larry Klayman, an attorney for the families, wrote in his complaint.
The suit also suggests that Clinton’s use of a private server to handle classified emails could have contributed to their deaths.
“They have a cause of action here, and they feel wronged,” Klayman told the Herald. “They deserve to be honored, but instead they have been defamed. Also, Hillary Clinton — in a grossly negligent manner — led the terrorists to kill their sons.”
A Clinton spokesman did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The suit threatens to revive both Benghazi and the Clinton private emails as campaign issues.
“For a lot of people who are looking for reasons to not support Hillary, this suit is yet another reason,” said Brad Marston, a Republican consultant.
“If the story gets any traction, it will have an effect on the narrative, and it’s another instance of waiting for another shoe to drop,” Marston said. “It’s another cloud over her campaign.”
Some GOP pundits said they had little faith that the families would be successful in suing Clinton, but that just bringing the suit reminds the public of the misdeeds she has been accused of over the years.
“The conversation is important and the fact that it has been picked up again is important,” said Marty Connors, a Republican strategist and former Alabama GOP state chairman.
“Other than getting headlines, litigation isn’t going to solve any problems, but it will keep the Benghazi story alive, which it needs to be,” Connors said.
Democrats, meanwhile, said the GOP should be wary before making the new lawsuit a story because it could backfire and push people toward Clinton.
“You run the risk that there is a sympathetic backlash because people think this whole thing is crazy at some point,” said Scott Ferson, a Democratic consultant.
“I’m not saying that’s the motivation behind the suit, but it’s the optics of making it a story,” Ferson said. “If Republicans jump on it, people may see it as a bit of overreach.”
Marston argued that the suit could help counter the “narrative that the media is using against Donald Trump” and his dealings with Khizr and Ghazala Khan — American Muslims whose son was slain in the Iraq War and have publicly attacked the Republican nominee.
“I think it balances the controversy,” he said. “Now you have the parents of Benghazi victims going after Clinton. It has the potential to balance out the attacks of the Khans and the liberal media on behalf of the Khans.”
But other Democrats are hoping the lawsuit flies under the radar of Trump’s repeated missteps. “I can’t believe something like this will overtake his own propensity to make mistakes,” said Doug Herman, a Democratic strategist.
“If 13 hours of congressional testimony didn’t uncover culpability,” Herman said, “then I can’t imagine that there is something left that hasn’t come through.”
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