But since that wasn't an option -- as the committee Republicans made just as clear -- the Democrats used a different tactic. Instead of pressing Clinton to answer a series of questions, they were much more likely to ask just a few, letting Clinton say as much or as little as she wanted.
We broke out the interrogatory part of the first section of the hearing by word counts, according to our transcript. The patterns are immediately obvious.
(The longest "question" came from Rep. Adam Schiff of California, who went on for over 1,100 words before saying, "I wonder if you would like to comment on what it's like to be the subject of an allegation that you deliberately interfered with security that cost the life of a friend.")
Only Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) asked more questions of Clinton than a Republican -- thanks to her asking a series of rapid-fire questions meant to bolster Clinton's argument that she received information from a lot of sources.
Clinton was able to speak for three times as long, on average, when a Democrat asked her a question. And Democratic questions were more than twice as long as those from the other party.
Democrats -- Clinton included -- didn't want to hold the hearing in the first place. Since it moved ahead anyway, they offered Clinton the best help they could: The ability to make her case without interruption.