Clinton aide saw early draft of Benghazi report

Clinton aide saw early draft of Benghazi report
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The former ambassador who spearheaded a review of the 2012 attack on at U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, reaffirmed Friday that one of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonNo Hillary — the 'Third Way' is the wrong way The dangerous erosion of Democratic Party foundations The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat MORE’s top aides had seen the report before it was issued to the public.

Some of the comments from Cheryl Mills, who served as Clinton’s chief of staff during her tenure as secretary of State, were later included in the report, Thomas Pickering told The New York Times

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“Some of the comments we accepted, and some we did not because they were not consistent with our findings and the way we chose to convey those,” he said.

“My judgment was that this did not constitute an inappropriate intervention or an attempt to change the basic report which we were not going to accept.”

Republicans have lambasted the Accountability Review Board’s report, which they say lacked independence and was set up to protect Clinton ahead of her run for the White House.

On Thursday, Mills was grilled for nine hours in the House’s Select Committee on Benghazi, during which time she reportedly confirmed that she offered some input about an initial draft of the report.

The office of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the Benghazi panel’s top Democrat, pointed out Friday that Pickering had previously acknowledged Mills’s role in reading the document two years ago. 

A copy of the findings and recommendations — but not the full report — “went to the secretary’s chief of staff,” Pickering said in the House Oversight Committee in 2013.

“But it was very clear that we were responsible for the draft,” he added; “that we were not according editing rights, but we were certainly willing to look at concerns and issues, particularly if they help us to sharpen the accuracy and the focus of our recommendations."

Cummings on Friday accused GOP lawmakers of leaking politically motivated nuggets to the press.

Republicans are “peddling an old conspiracy theory that was debunked more than two years ago,” he claimed.

“They had access to Ambassador Pickering’s deposition transcript, so the only way they can claim their concern is ‘new’ is if they never read it or they simply ignored it in a desperate effort to resuscitate a conspiracy theory that was debunked under [former House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)],” he added.