Hillary Clinton will return to Capitol Hill today to face questions from the House Benghazi Committee in what is expected to be a marathon session. Clinton's 2013 testimony on the attacks that killed four Americans on September 11, 2012, was widely regarded as successful but for a 10-second flash of anger that has been repeated countless times in Republican attack ads. The pressure is on Clinton now to be perfect, in order to build off her strong debate performance last week. But perfect doesn't mean quiet—she is expected to forcefully defend herself from criticism, while taking a few shots at the committee, which has expanded its scope in recent months to probe her use of private email. An aide said Clinton will also seek to defend the sort of "expeditionary diplomacy" that brought U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens to Benghazi, arguing that diplomacy is best conducted from the front-lines. Republican lawmakers say they hope to focus the questioning on the attack itself, rather than the ensuing controversy around Clinton's emails.
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan didn't officially win the House Freedom Caucus' endorsement Wednesday night, but he moved the goalpost to accept a supermajority of support regardless, saying in a statement it was a positive step to meeting his conditions to run for Speaker of the House. Caucus rules required an 80 percent threshold of support to officially endorse, but Ryan declared in a statement that the smaller majority met one of his conditions for deciding whether to seek the top job—making his ascendance to the role far more likely.
Joe Biden decided not to seek the White House Wednesday. "While I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent," he said from the Rose Garden, as he assailed Clinton's boast that Republicans are her enemy and laid out the workings of the Biden platform that will never be. Biden called on Democratic candidates to run on Obama's record, embrace four years of free public college education, and said he'd devote the last 15 months of his time in office to pushing for a "moonshot" to cure cancer.
President Obama will hold a photo-op to veto a defense spending bill Thursday—the fifth of his presidency—to protest restrictions on closing the Guantanamo Bay prison and the fact that Congress hasn't worked to lift spending caps on non-defense spending. CNBC set its lineup for next week's GOP debate in Boulder, with Donald Trump and Ben Carson taking center stage, and Jeb Bush being replaced by Marco Rubio at Trump's side as his poll numbers have softened. And Bush weighs in on "Supergirl."
Here are your must-reads:
Clinton Prepares for Benghazi Showdown With Republicans
TIME's Jay Newton-Small previews the expected eight hours of testimony
Joe Biden Decides to Sit Out the Race
In the end, it was a classic Washington squeeze play, TIME's Philip Elliott writes in this week's magazine.
Carly Fiorina’s Convenient Truths
TIME's Philip Elliott on why the GOP’s top saleswoman thinks she can win the White House
Freedom Caucus Majority Backs Paul Ryan for House Speaker
Supermajority backs the Wisconsin lawmaker [New York Times]
Angered by Trump and Cruz, Hispanic Conservatives Plan ‘Unprecedented’ Meeting
Group to name names of candidates who can't win enough Latinos to win general election [Washington Post]
“‘Supergirl’ is on TV — I saw that when I was working out this morning. She looked pretty hot. I don’t know what channel it’s on, but I’m looking forward to that.” — Jeb Bush asked to name his favorite Marvel superhero at an event in Las Vegas listed Batman (actually from DC Comics) and Supergirl
"I don’t believe, like some do, that it’s naïve to talk to Republicans. I don’t think we should look at Republicans as our enemies. They are our opposition; they’re not our enemies." — Joe Biden implicitly criticizing Hillary Clinton as he announced he wouldn't launch a presidential bid Wednesday
Bits and Bites
9 Questions With Ted Koppel [TIME]
Meet Carly Fiorina's 'Body Person' [Facebook]
Obama Administration Draws Up Plan to Help Puerto Rico With Debt [New York Times]
Bernie Sanders Plays the Bongos To Ben Harper's 'Burn One Down'" [Huffington Post]