Ex-Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal to testify in private on Benghazi

A former aide to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton backs Georgia governor hopeful on eve of primary Pressure rising on GOP after Trump–DOJ fight’s latest turn Press: Why Trump should thank FBI MORE has agreed to testify in private later this month before the House panel investigating the 2012 attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya.

Sidney Blumenthal, a long-time associate of the Clinton family, will appear for a closed-door witness deposition on June 16 at 10 a.m. The deposition with the House Select Committee on Benghazi will come just three days after the former secretary of State holds her first major presidential campaign rally, in New York.

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The State Department made about 300 emails public last month that showed Clinton received about 25 memos from Blumenthal regarding Libya while she was secretary, including one that blamed the 2012 Benghazi attack on a "sacrilegious" Internet video depicting the prophet Mohammad. Blumenthal sent another memo the next day citing "sensitive sources" who believed it was an act of terrorism.

Blumenthal, who previously worked for former President Bill Clinton's administration, most recently worked as an employee of the Clinton Foundation and served as an informal adviser to Hillary Clinton when she was in President Obama's Cabinet. He also had business transactions with Libya's transitional government.

The emails released to the public showed that Clinton forwarded some of Blumenthal's missives to her senior staff at the State Department without identifying him as the source. 

One exchange between Clinton aide Jake Sullivan and Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who died in the Benghazi attack, referred to Blumenthal as "HRC friend."

The Benghazi panel, which is chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), has not yet announced when it will call Hillary Clinton to testify.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the Benghazi Committee's top Democrat, has accused the GOP of tactics "straight out the partisan playbook of discredited Republican investigations" by leaking news of the subpoena before it was served and using two armed U.S. marshals to deliver it to Blumenthal.

Clinton downplayed Blumenthal's influence on her tenure as secretary of State when asked about the relationship last month.

“I have many, many old friends, and I always think that it's important when you get into politics to have friends that you had before you were in politics and to understand what's on their minds. He's been a friend of mine for a long time — he sent me unsolicited emails, which I passed on in some instances, and I see that that's just part of the give-and-take,” Clinton told reporters.

The Clinton Foundation paid Blumenthal about $10,000 a month while he worked for the organization, according to reports.

—This story was updated at 4:25 p.m.