In an exclusive interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, Hillary Clinton said she views the criticism over her role in the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate Benghazi, Libya as “more of a reason to” -- rather than not to -- run for president in 2016.
“Actually, it's more of a reason to run, because I do not believe our great country should be playing minor league ball. We ought to be in the majors,” Clinton said. “I view this as really apart from -- even a diversion from -- the hard work that the Congress should be doing about the problems facing our country and the world.”
Republicans, however, do not agree, and have scrutinized the former secretary of state’s handling of the attack in multiple investigations and hearings.
Much more of Sawyer's conversation with Clinton, including an extended discussion about Benghazi, will air during a one-hour ABC News primetime special tonight at 9 p.m. ET. ABC's Robin Roberts will follow up with Clinton's first live interview Tuesday, June 10, on "Good Morning America."
In the interview, which coincides with Tuesday’s publication of her new memoir, “Hard Choices,” Clinton told Sawyer that while she takes responsibility for the incident, she does not believe that she, personally, could have done anything to prevent the attack.
“Well, I certainly would give anything on earth if this had not happened. And I certainly would wish that we had made some of the changes that came to our attention to make as a result of the investigation. But I also am clear in my own mind that we had a system and that system, of course, ended with me,” she said. “I take responsibility, but I was not making security decisions.”
Clinton said her role in securing the American mission in Benghazi, which came under attack on Sept. 11, 2012, was to give "very direct instructions" to security experts and she said she was right to defer to their judgment.
"What I did was give very direct instructions that the people who have the expertise and experience in security," Clinton told Sawyer, referring to her actions prior to the attack that claimed the lives of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. "I'm not equipped to sit and look at blueprints, to determine where the blast walls need to be or where the reinforcements need to be," she added. "That's why we hire people who have that expertise."
In the interview, Clinton did not say definitively whether she will testify before the new Congressional committee that will examine the attack if called to do so. "That's going to be up to the people running the hearing," she told Sawyer.
ABC’s Liz Kreutz contributed reporting.