Former State Department official Cheryl Mills sat through nine hours of extended questions from the House committee investigating the September 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday.
The closed-door, daylong deposition of the longtime Hillary Clinton aide was marked by “professionalism and respect,” Mills told reporters in brief remarks after the discussion had concluded.
“Ms. Mills answered all of the committee’s questions,” Chairman Trey GowdyTrey GowdyTrey Gowdy sets goal of avoiding ideological echo chamber with Fox News show Fox News signs Trey Gowdy, Dan Bongino for new shows Pompeo rebukes Biden's new foreign policy MORE (R-S.C.) said. “The dialogue was professional and fact-centric.”
Yet despite requests from both Mills and top committee Democrat Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Manchin says no; White House fires back House Democrats find drug companies 'unjustified' in price hikes Your must-read holiday book list from members of Congress MORE (Md.) to release a transcript of the deposition, the contents of the briefing won’t be made available for the public — at least for now.
“The members of the Benghazi committee on our side are going to treat the conservation as if it were classified,” Gowdy said.
Like transcripts of other interviews conducted by the panel, he added, intelligence and national security officials need to review the record of what was said, to make sure that nothing secret gets out.
“I’m not going to release something that in hindsight I say, ‘Oops, I shouldn’t have released that,’” he told reporters.
“I’d rather err on the side of y’all being upset with me that I’m not releasing it than err on the side of releasing it and then having to explain afterwards why I did it.”
Cummings, meanwhile, repeated his request for Gowdy to release the text of the deposition as soon as possible. He has worried that continued secrecy allows for Republicans to selectively leak portions to the press out of context, in order to paint people in a negative light.
“Hopefully soon the transcript will be given out to the public,” Cummings said. “I think that’s very important.”
Mills, who served as Clinton’s former chief of staff in the State Department, was questioned on Thursday about her role in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Libya that left four Americans dead, as well as Clinton’s use of a personal email address throughout her tenure as secretary of State.
In addition to Gowdy and Cummings, only three other members of the panel attended Thursday’s deposition: Reps. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.).
On Friday, members of the panel will sit for another daylong session with Jake Sullivan, another former top aide to Clinton who is now an adviser with her presidential campaign. That discussion will also remain secret for the time being, Gowdy said.
Another former State Department aide who also helped set up Clinton’s email system is declining to answer questions from the committee as well as the FBI. Instead, Bryan Pagliano will assert his constitutional right under the Fifth Amendment to stay silent.