New battle over claim that Clinton mishandled CIA secrets

New battle over claim that Clinton mishandled CIA secrets
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Congressional Democrats are accusing Republicans on the House Select Committee on Benghazi of falsely claiming that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGeorge Takei: US has hit a new low under Trump Democrats slam Puerto Rico governor over 'shameful' comments, back protesters Matt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' MORE improperly handled some of the government’s most closely guarded secrets, days before the former secretary of State is to testify about the 2011 terrorist attack on a U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya.

An email revealed by committee Republicans earlier this month made it seem as if Clinton received and then forwarded the name of a CIA source as part of a 2011 memo from longtime associate Sidney Blumenthal.

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The name of that source “is some of the most protected information in our intelligence community,” committee Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyCummings 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 Our sad reality: Donald Trump is no Eisenhower MORE (R-S.C.) said at the time, “the release of which could jeopardize not only national security but also human lives.”

According to the committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsCummings: 'No doubt about it' Trump is a racist Cummings asks prosecutors about decision not to charge Trump in hush money probe DHS chief to Pelosi: Emergency border funding 'has already had an impact' MORE (Md.), however, the CIA told lawmakers this weekend that “they do not consider the information … classified.”

“Specifically, the CIA confirmed that ‘the State Department consulted with the CIA on this production, the CIA reviewed these documents, and the CIA made no redactions to protect classified information,’” Cummings said in a scathing letter to Gowdy.

A State Department official confirmed that Cummings’s letter “describes ‎the situation accurately.” A spokesman with the CIA declined to comment on the matter.

Gowdy insisted that the presence of the name in one of Clinton's emails is nonetheless damaging, regardless of the CIA's stance.

Still, the revelation appears to undercut a top argument of Republicans on the committee — that Clinton mishandled obviously classified information by allowing it to pass through her email inbox — days before her appearance in a Thursday open hearing.

In a letter responding to Cummings, Gowdy acknowledged that the CIA “had reviewed the material in question and asked for no material to be redacted.”

However, he added, “The name of the alleged source was redacted ... by someone in the Executive Branch — the fact that the CIA says it didn’t do it does not mean the material was not sensitive or classified. 

“And in fact, additional information remains in the document that ordinarily would be considered highly sensitive,” Gowdy insisted. “This appears to mean either Mr. Blumenthal conveyed false and unreliable information to Secretary Clinton about Libya and misrepresented it, or the review process is faulty or has been politicized.”

Partisan bickering over the committee’s mission has rapidly ticked up in recent weeks, on the heels of comments from two House Republicans — including Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) — and a former Republican staffer seemingly connecting the panel’s work to Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Members of the panel took to political talk shows on Sunday to reiterate their claims about its integrity.