Cummings: Benghazi panel leaking lies

Cummings: Benghazi panel leaking lies
© Greg Nash

The top Democrat on the House committee on Benghazi says someone connected to the panel leaked false information to the media to attack Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP rushes to cut ties to Moore Papadopoulos was in regular contact with Stephen Miller, helped edit Trump speech: report Bannon jokes Clinton got her ‘ass kicked’ in 2016 election MORE.

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“Documents released recently by the Benghazi Select Committee demonstrate that a Member of the Committee, a staffer on the Committee, or someone who has been given access to the Committee’s documents inaccurately described to the press email exchanges obtained by the Committee in a way that appeared to further a political attack against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,” Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said Monday in a letter to Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyControversial ‘hack back’ bill gains supporters despite critics Top Oversight Dem pushes back on Uranium One probe Overnight Cybersecurity: Manafort, Gates to remain under house arrest | Mueller said to be closing in on Flynn | 'Hack back' bill gains steam | Election security gets attention from DHS MORE (R-S.C.).

Cummings specifically cited a June 18 Politico article where an anonymous source claimed to have read email exchanges among Clinton, her confidant Sidney Blumenthal, Media Matters and the White House about how to tamp down criticism of Clinton’s handling of the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead.

Cummings noted that the emails, since released to the public, show there was no concerted effort to downplay the tragedy and that several of the descriptions provided by the source were inaccurate.

“Unfortunately, this is only the latest in a reckless pattern of selective Republican leaks and mischaracterizations of evidence relating to the Benghazi attacks,” he wrote.

Cummings pressed Gowdy to get to the bottom of matter, saying, “it now appears that someone who was given access to the Select Committee’s documents leaked doctored information to the press in order to make unsubstantiated allegations against Secretary Clinton.”

“Since you have repeatedly refused my requests for the Select Committee to adopt rules — including protocols governing the release of documents obtained as part of the investigation — it is unclear how you propose to prevent this type of abuse from happening again in the future,” he added.

The letter comes as the panel could vote this week to release the transcript of the roughly nine-hour, closed-door deposition Blumenthal gave last month.

Gowdy fired back in his own letter, telling Cummings that the top Dem had “once again — placed your infatuation with process and politics ahead of substance.”

He implored Cummings and the panel’s four other Democrats to work with the GOP as the probe goes forward, especially with the select committee “finally” slated to interview top Clinton aides from the State Department, including Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills.

Gowdy said that, if anything, the latest partisan dust up shows that Clinton did not turn over everything to the State Department from the private email server she used while in office.

He also pointed out that the Politico article in question had been updated, callings Cummings’ accusation “fallacious on its face.”

“I find your repeated partisan attempts to distract from the facts and substance of this investigation, which revealed the four key claims Secretary Clinton made about her use of private email and a server for official public business are demonstrably false, to be tedious and mendacious,” Gowdy said.

“Accordingly, I have instructed my staff to no longer waste time responding to your increasingly wild, inaccurate and baseless claims and to instead remain focus on discharging the mission given to us by the House of Representatives,” he added.

This story was updated at 4:25 p.m.