Clinton wants to testify on Benghazi ‘without delay’

Clinton wants to testify on Benghazi ‘without delay’
© Getty

Former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump preps conspiracy theory to explain faltering economy The ideological divide on vaping has a clear winner: Smokers Biden struggles to hit it off with millennials MORE’s attorney is pressing the head of the House panel investigating the Benghazi attacks to schedule her testimony “without delay.”

Clinton lawyer David Kendall said there was “no reason” to delay her appearance or have her testify in a private interview.

ADVERTISEMENT

“In November, I informed your staff of Secretary Clinton’s willingness to testify publicly before the Select Committee on Benghazi. In the succeeding months, she has reiterated her willingness, and I do so again on her behalf,” Kendall said in a letter to panel chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyRising star Ratcliffe faces battle to become Trump's intel chief Cummings announces expansion of Oversight panel's White House personal email probe, citing stonewalling Pelosi says it's up to GOP to address sexual assault allegation against Trump MORE (R-S.C.).

“There is no reason to delay her appearance or to have her testify in a private interview,” he added.

The missive comes the same day Gowdy’s staff indicated that the panel’s investigation into the 2012 assault on the U.S. compound in Benghazi would not wrap up until sometime in 2016. That prompted Democrats to echo their complaints that the probe is really a GOP attack on Clinton.

"The Gowdy Committee's admission today that it will not finish its investigation until 2016 is the most telling evidence yet that their investigation is solely about playing politics in the 2016 presidential campaign," Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said in a statement. "This action is the latest example in a broad concerted effort by Republicans and their allies to launch false attacks against Hillary Clinton’s record and deep experience on foreign affairs and national security."

Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, has recently insisted that Clinton would have to appear before his committee twice: once behind closed doors to examine her use of a personal email server while serving as secretary of State, and again in an open hearing to discuss the 2012 attacks.

Kendall brushed that request aside, saying Clinton has already testified before House and Senate panels about the incident and “has made clear that she will voluntarily testify publicly again before the select committee,” including about her e-mail use.

In a statement, Gowdy said he appreciated Kendall's letter "but respectfully disagree with his assertion former Secretary Clinton has answered all questions surrounding the unusual email arrangement she had with herself."

He noted that the panel "is now in possession of thousands of pages of documents" that were not turned up in previous inquiries into the deadly attack.
 
Gowdy said the panel "will issue a response tomorrow setting out a reasonable path forward with respect to Secretary Clinton's appearances to discuss both Benghazi as well as congressional efforts to ensure the public record is complete with respect to her tenure as Secretary of State."

Gowdy has previously insisted he didn’t want his committee’s work to drag into next year, and that it was not targeted toward Clinton.

But a spokesman on Wednesday said work is likely to go into next year. The spokesman blamed the Obama administration.

“Factors beyond the committee’s control, including witness availability, compliance with documents requests, the granting of security clearances and accreditations — all of which are controlled by the executive branch — could continue to impact the timing of the inquiry’s conclusion,” panel spokesman Jamal Ware said in a statement.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the panel’s top Democrat, condemned the delay.

“Does anybody even remember anymore that we were supposed to be investigating the attacks in Benghazi? With the Republicans’ obsessive focus on Hillary Clinton, and their now stated intention to drag out this political charade until just months before the 2016 election, the Select Committee no longer bears any resemblance to its original purpose," he said in a statement.

The House created the select committee last May to investigate the 2012 Benghazi attacks that left four Americans dead.

Republicans argued a new probe was needed to explore unanswered questions about the Obama administration’s response to the assault. Democrats accused the GOP of launching a “witch hunt” against Clinton, and now say those concerns are being played out.

“Unfortunately, we’re seeing the fears that we had come when the select committee was established materialize. That it is becoming really a select committee on the presidential campaign of Secretary Clinton,” Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), one of the panel’s five Democrats, told The Hill.

He said the focus on Clinton by GOP panel members and Gowdy “strips off any veneer that this was about anything else.”

Republicans have pushed back against that characterization, saying Clinton and the State Department are to blame.

“They could clean this up a whole lot quicker if the administration and former Secretary Clinton were in a position to actually cooperate with the committee and turn over the type of information that we’ve been seeking for some time,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said during a Wednesday news conference.

“But the administration has made it virtually impossible to get to the facts surrounding Benghazi,” he added. “When we have the facts, we’ll have the report.”

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) said Clinton “brought it on herself” with her use of a private email account.

“She’s the one who got the secret server and didn’t want to turn over the emails,” he said. “She can blame herself and the State Department; they’re the ones who’ve been dragging their feet, not us,” he said.

—This story was updated at 7:13 p.m.