Benghazi chairman wants Clinton to talk

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The Republican chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi said Wednesday he wants to hear from former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonSanders raising money to send delegates to Philadelphia Clinton agenda wins praise | Commerce markup coming | Facebook check in activated What US elections can learn from Brexit: Watch the polls MORE.

Rep. Trey GowdyTrey GowdyThe true story of the Benghazi committee Grayson rips Murphy for voting to create Benghazi panel Dem rep: Benghazi panel among my ‘saddest exercises’ MORE (R-S.C.) told reporters after the panel's second hearing that he wants to talk to Clinton about the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Libya, which left four Americans dead.

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Separately, Gowdy indicated he wants his panel to have several more hearings at the beginning of next year, but left it unclear when Clinton might make a public appearance.

Clinton is “a witness that we would like to talk to. I cannot tell you when,” he said.

Clinton, who is widely expected to run for president in 2016, was the nation’s top diplomat at the time of the attack and has been repeatedly chastised by the GOP over her handling of the episode that left four Americans dead.

A second appearance on Capitol Hill about Benghazi would be catnip for political operatives, Republican politicians and cable television producers.

In a memorable appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January 2013, Clinton had a testy exchange with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) that has since been repeatedly telecast, and is likely to make its way into many 2016 ads.

“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans,” Clinton said, cutting off Johnson’s questioning.

“Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk last night who decided to kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?” Clinton continued. “It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from every happening again.”

Clinton’s testimony had her supporters and other Democrats cheering that day, though Republicans have since zeroed in on her asking “what difference at this point does it make” to cast her as out of touch.

Several Republicans have argued Clinton’s handling of Benghazi should bar her from seeking the presidency.

But Democrats say a series of news stories and investigation have found no evidence of a White House cover-up, and accused Republicans of going on a partisan witchhunt.

Most recently, a report by the GOP-controlled House Intelligence Committee found no evidence of an intelligence failure ahead of the attack. The Intelligence panel also concluded that there was no delay in sending a rescue mission to the consulate when it came under attack, and that there had been no missed opportunity to launch a rescue by armed forces.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the select committee’s top Democrat, indicated Wednesday he would oppose calling on Clinton to testify because the State Department’s Accountability Review Board that investigated Benghazi had already talked to her.

But Gowdy on Wednesday vowed to produce a thorough account of the assault, regardless of previous investigations.

“We will have hearings in January, February, March and until there is a full understanding of what happened in Benghazi. That means access all documents and all witnesses. We are going to answer the questions surrounding the attacks in Benghazi. We may answer some more than once,” he said at the outset of the meeting.

In an op-ed in The Hill published Wednesday, retiring Intelligence panel chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said his committee’s report “lays the groundwork for the Benghazi Select Committee, which I voted to create, to pursue vigorously the many unanswered questions about the Obama White House and State Department actions to finally get to the truth on those issues.”

The panel’s “fact-based investigation will pave the way” for the special committee, according to Rogers.

Gowdy drove that point home with reporters, arguing the “ARB looked at the State Department, the [House Armed Services Committee] looked at the military, [the House Intelligence panel] looked at the intelligence community.”

“I don’t know that any committee has looked at all three and how they may interact or not interact with each other,” he said.

Gowdy said he didn’t think Rogers or retiring Armed Services chairman Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) “would tell you, ‘okay, we’re done. We don’t need to look at anything else.’”

This story was posted at 2:57 p.m. and updated at 5:32 p.m.