2. Don’t shout, “What difference does it make?” Really, it’s never a good response to any congressional inquest.
3. Tears can be effective, especially if you are a burly man whose courage and dedication are not in question. (I don’t suggest that the State Department witnesses were faking it — and don’t try your hand at acting. But if you tear or choke up, it’s going to make the cable TV news.)
4. If you have told Congress X and you subsequently learn X is not true, tell lawmakers as soon as humanly possible. Otherwise you will be accused of telling a “lie by omission.”
5. If you are the boss and your defense is that you were clueless about what was going on in your agency or department, you may be sneered at, excoriated and excluded from higher office. People may also wonder what you were doing all day.
7. If you take the 5th Amendment, don’t give a substantive speech first. Chances are you blew it. Witnesses can’t decide to speechify and then refuse to answer questions.
8. Get a good lawyer. (See #7.)
9. Apologies are essential. If you headed an organization that went astray, you are responsible and you should be repentant. If you personally didn’t follow up or communicate with your superiors, allowed inaccurate information to remain on the record or were otherwise oblivious, you need to apologize. You did not do your job.
10. Don’t lie. It is worth repeating. Really, if you don’t know, you don’t know. And if you say something, you are expected to be testifying to what you know. (Don’t come back later to say, “I really didn’t remember.’)