Clinton camp warns GOP as aide enters Benghazi panel

Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump approval falls 4 points in new survey Voting advocates notch win at Supreme Court House Democrats expand 2018 targets MORE’s presidential campaign is warning Republicans on the House Select Committee on Benghazi not to leak details of a top aide’s closed-door appearance on Friday, as they allege lawmakers have done with other private briefings.

As campaign vice chairwoman and longtime Clinton confidante Huma Abedin entered the committee’s meeting room on Friday morning, campaign spokesman Nick Merrill renewed his allegations that the committee is merely interested in politics.

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“The Republicans' focus on her of all people, and their decision to leak details about her appearance, is just another tactic in their partisan plan to go after Hillary Clinton,” Merrill said in a statement.

“And in that vein, we hope that the leaks that have become routine do not happen after she completes her interview."

Democrats have repeatedly accused GOP lawmakers of using the committee as a taxpayer-funded political hit job, and Merrill’s comments on Friday emphasize the degree to which Clinton’s campaign is ready to attack.

“The committee’s focus on Huma (as opposed to numerous intelligence and defense community officials still outstanding) is additional evidence that the actual attack in Benghazi, and its lessons about how we might better protect diplomats serving in dangerous places, are the last things on the committee's mind,” he said.

At the first Democratic presidential debate earlier in the week, Clinton called the Benghazi Committee “basically an arm of the Republican National Committee.”

“I am still standing,” she insisted, to applause.

Clinton is scheduled to appear in an open hearing of the committee next Thursday, in what is likely to be a key moment for both her political ambitions and the future of the GOP-led investigation.

Abedin declined to address reporters while entering the committee’s room on Friday morning.

Ahead of her closed-door testimony, a GOP aide to the Benghazi Committee described the nature of the panel’s questioning in a statement to reporters. 

“Ms. Abedin will be questioned about issues pertaining to the committee’s charter: the events leading up to, during and after the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012 and executive branch activities and efforts to comply with congressional inquiries into them,” the aide said, declining to speak on the record.

Democrats have repeatedly accused Republicans of having former Clinton aides speak before closed-door sessions merely to leak embarrassing snippets devoid of context to media outlets later.

They have attempted to fight back.

In addition to forcing Clinton’s testimony into the open later this month, Democrats have also pledged to release the nine-hour transcript of another top Clinton aide, Cheryl Mills, which Republicans have insisted should be kept secret.