House Republicans grilled the co-author of the State Department’s independent Benghazi audit for several hours on Tuesday with the clear intention of trying to place blame on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to Democrats who were in the room.

Retired diplomat Thomas Pickering appeared for the closed-door deposition after being subpoenaed by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). Pickering was asked at length about his Accountability Review Board’s (ARB) decision to place blame on four mid-level State Department officials, leaving Democrats with little doubt that Republicans were building a case against Clinton.

“It was very much a micro-issue of who some of the folks were to be disciplined,” said Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.). “That’s about as far they got in the first hour.”