Benghazi panel releases interim report, accuses administration of dragging feet

Benghazi panel releases interim report, accuses administration of dragging feet
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The leader of the House panel examining the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, accused the Obama administration of dragging its feet and not cooperating, as he released an interim report on the committee’s first year of work.

The 15-page interim report by the House Select Committee on Benghazi, released Friday on the anniversary of the panel’s creation, devotes nearly three pages to “challenges to obtaining executive branch compliance.”

It also hammers the State Department for taking months to hand over material and former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIntel Dem decries White House 'gag order' after Bannon testimony 'Total free-for-all' as Bannon clashes with Intel members Mellman: On Political Authenticity (Part 2) MORE for her use of a private email account.

“The fact that the secretary exclusively used and maintained a private email server, leaving her with sole and unfettered access to the complete universe of her emails, raises a number of transparency and accountability issues,” wrote Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyHouse Oversight slams TSA after report says officials 'interfered' in disciplinary case Gowdy steps down from Ethics Committee, citing 'challenging workload' Oversight Dems ask for subpoena of Trump Organization MORE (R-S.C.), the panel’s chairman.

He repeated his demand for Clinton to turn the server over to a neutral third party.

The interim report is short on conclusions and comes as Gowdy seeks to win an agreement for Clinton to appear before the panel.

The Democratic White House front-runner this week confirmed through her attorney that she is willing to testify, but just once and not twice as Gowdy has requested.

Gowdy has yet to respond and likely won’t until next week, when House members return from their one-week recess.

Besides chastising the administration, the interim report lays out the panel’s next steps, including interviewing former and current White House and Pentagon officials, such as former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Last month a panel spokesman signaled that the committee's final report on its investigation might not be ready until 2016, well into the race for the White House.

The admission prompted Democrats to say the select committee’s work is nothing more than a partisan exercise meant to hamper Clinton’s presidential bid.

Gowdy rebutted that charge in the interim report’s introduction.

“My goal has always been — and continues to be — to conclude the investigation in 2015. It is increasingly apparent our ability to meet that goal depends on the cooperation of the administration,” he wrote. “The level of cooperation to date has been underwhelming. That must change.”

The panel's top Democrat chastised the investigation's pace.

"At every turn, the Select Committee comes up with a new excuse to further delay its work and then blames its glacial pace on someone else," Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said in a statement. "Republicans are desperately trying to validate the $3 million in taxpayer funds they have spent over the past year, but they have nothing to show for it other than a partisan attack against Secretary Clinton and her campaign for president."

"Like the investigation itself, this memo is short on substance, short on accomplishments, and short on a plan for how to get this investigation done," he added.

- Updated at 5:01 p.m.