The House Select Committee investigating the deadly terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, this week held a pair of classified briefings with administration officials.

“The Select Committee met in closed session to discuss the facts surrounding the attacks on our mission facility and annex in Benghazi,” panel chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said in a statement. “The Department of State provided new information to the committee and answered questions raised by committee members.”

{mosads}The committee also held a closed-door meeting with Justice Department officials to discuss documents and potential witnesses related to the committee’s investigation.

“The committee is continuing its probe into all aspects of Benghazi and is currently focused on ensuring access to all first-hand accounts from those on the ground that night,” Gowdy said. “This process will be ongoing and in some respects must remain classified.”

Gowdy said that while the bulk of the committee’s work would have to be done behind closed doors, he intends to hold additional hearings that are open the public.

Democrats have labeled the GOP’s Benghazi panel a “political stunt” aimed at generating negative publicity for Hillary Clinton, the presumed front-runner for the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 2016. She was secretary of State at the time of the deadly assault in Libya.

Republicans have repeatedly attacked Clinton’s handling of the episode, with several suggesting it should disqualify her for the presidency.

Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, steered clear of the Clinton controversy during his first two public hearings last year. However, he has split with Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the panel’s top Democrat, over whether Clinton should appear before lawmakers.

Clinton is “a witness that we would like to talk to. I cannot tell you when,” Gowdy told reporters after the panel’s second hearing.

Democrats on the select panel have urged the GOP to hold an organizational meeting that would allow them to adopt rules for the committee.

“After eight months and more than a million taxpayer dollars spent, it remains unclear what new questions the Select Committee seeks to answer,” the committee’s five Democrats said Wednesday in a statement. “Since our members were denied the ability to meaningfully debate or amend the resolution, we now look to the Committee to quickly adopt rules that ensure that our Democratic members are able to participate fully in the investigation.”

The investigation is proceeding in the wake of a new report published by the GOP-controlled House Intelligence Committee last year that found no evidence of an intelligence failure ahead of the attack. 

The Intelligence panel concluded there was no delay in sending a rescue mission to the compound when it came under attack, and that there had been no missed opportunity to launch a rescue by armed forces.

Several Republicans have been harshly critical of that report, with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) dismissing it as “full of crap.”  

— This story was updated at 2:52 p.m.

Tags Hillary Clinton Lindsey Graham Trey Gowdy
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