Second top Clinton aide spends 9 hours before Benghazi inquiry

Second top Clinton aide spends 9 hours before Benghazi inquiry
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A former top State Department aide who now assists Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe dangerous erosion of Democratic Party foundations The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat Left laughs off floated changes to 2024 ticket MORE’s presidential campaign spent roughly nine hours in a classified deposition for the House committee on Benghazi on Friday.

Former director of policy planning Jake SullivanJake SullivanWhite House says Russia could launch attack in Ukraine 'at any point' Blinken stresses 'unshakable' US commitment to Ukraine in call with Russian counterpart Texas hostage-taker was known to British security officials MORE said upon exiting the briefing that he was “very glad to have the opportunity to talk about the extraordinary service of my colleagues to their country — my colleagues at the State Department — especially the career foreign service officers and the incredible work they do on behalf of our nation every day.”

“I was happy to answer every question the committee had,” Sullivan added, without discussing details of the closed-door session.

The interview could be particularly revealing, committee 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 on his way into the secure meeting room in the Capitol’s basement.


 “In a country like Libya, you need to understand what policy you’re pursuing and then you need to understand what physical presence is necessary to effectuate that policy, then you have to balance the two,” Gowdy said.

“He probably is going to be in maybe even a unique position to explain to us how the policy required physical presence.”

In addition to working for Clinton in the State Department, Sullivan is also the top adviser on her front-runner Democratic presidential campaign.

Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.), a member of the Benghazi panel, said late Friday afternoon that the session was “very professional” and “very fact-focused.”

“It was a very, very long day with many questions,” Brooks said.

Friday’s deposition comes a day after another former Clinton aide — ex-chief of staff Cheryl Mills — appeared in a marathon, nine-hour meeting of the committee.

Friday’s briefing focused on the same handful of issues as that Thursday session, Gowdy said in the morning: the security of the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, before the 2012 attacks that killed four Americans; the administration’s response and explanation to the violence; the “objectivity” of a review board investigating the attack; and “the administration’s efforts to comply with legitimate congressional oversight.”

Clinton’s use of a private email setup will also likely come up, Gowdy acknowledged before the meeting, though it would not be a main focus of his panel’s questions.  

“I can just tell you it came up really late yesterday in the questioning,” Gowdy said on Friday. "Our committee is the committee on Benghazi. It’s not the committee on emails.”

Like Mills’s appearance, a transcript of Sullivan’s remarks before the committee Friday will remain classified for the time being.

That upset Democrats, who have pressed for the remarks to be made public and have been increasingly critical of the role of the Benghazi panel.

“I want the transcript released,” top committee Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.) told reporters. “I really do. Because I think when you see the transcript and I think when the American people see the transcript they will get a clear picture of what was happening, how it happened with regard to a number of issues.”

Keeping the transcripts secret, Democratic members of the panel insist, allows for Republicans to selectively leak snippets that may be damaging to Clinton’s presidential bid.

“I don’t think it should be shelved ... so it can collect dust, never to be seen by anybody except the committee members,” Cummings added.

“We can have leaks but we ought to be able to have a transcript, and I would hope that that would happen.”

Sullivan declined to speak with reporters while heading into the committee room around 8 a.m. on Friday morning.

On Friday, another committee Democrat — Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) — wrote a New York Times op-ed calling for Congress to dissolve the special committee, which set of a round of bickering between panel Democrats and Republicans. 

This story was updated at 6:05 p.m.