A Republican-led House panel asked Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to testify in May and June on her use of private e-mails while secretary of state and her response to the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya.
Representative Trey Gowdy, the South Carolina Republican who leads the Select Committee on Benghazi, requested in a letter that Clinton appear before the committee to discuss the e-mails during the week of May 18 and to discuss the Benghazi attacks by June 18.
“Discussing Secretary Clinton’s exclusive use of private e-mail with which to conduct public business” is necessary for “discussing the facts surrounding the terrorist attacks in Benghazi,” the letter from Gowdy to Clinton’s attorney said.
The investigation, centering on the attack on the U.S. compound in which Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed, has widened after the disclosure that Clinton used personal e-mail and a private server to conduct official State Department business. Gowdy and other Republicans have questioned whether all relevant e-mails have been turned over.
David Kendall, Clinton’s attorney, didn’t immediately respond to a phone call and e-mail seeking comment about Gowdy’s request that Clinton appear twice before the committee.
Clinton was secretary of state at the time of the Libya attack, and Republicans have been trying for more than two years to prove that she failed to bolster security before the assault. They also say she should share blame for the initial, erroneous account by President Barack Obama’s administration of what happened in the attack.
The investigation’s findings aren’t likely to be released until next year, just months before the 2016 presidential election. Clinton announced this month that she is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.
House Democrats said Thursday that Gowdy’s committee has operated at a “glacial pace” and that the investigation is on track to take longer than reviews of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Watergate and the Sept. 11 terror attacks. They said the panel didn’t seek documents from the Defense Department until April 8, or 11 months after the committee was established.
Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the committee’s top Democrat, suggested the review is politically motivated.
“This appears to be a coordinated attempt by Republicans to drag out this taxpayer-funded search for anything they can use against Hillary Clinton, while their political arm raises campaign funds off the death of four Americans,” Cummings said in a statement.
Gowdy’s letter included 136 sample questions about Clinton’s private e-mail server, such as why she wanted the arrangement, whether it was her idea or someone else’s to use the system, and whether government funds were used to procure or plan for it.
Other questions focused on the security of the network, methods used to keep records, and whether any steps were taken to identify potential cyber threats.
Eight questions were directly tied to Benghazi. Most of those revolved around whether Clinton was aware of efforts -- by Congress, the Benghazi Accountability Review Board or Freedom of Information Act requests -- to obtain documents related to the attacks and whether she offered to provide records to respond to such queries. One asked whether she used e-mail to communicate with Stevens, the ambassador who was killed.
Clinton wouldn’t be the first presidential candidate to testify before a congressional committee. In April 1964, then-Alabama Governor George Wallace, who was vying to become the Democrats’ presidential nominee, testified about school prayer before the House Judiciary Committee.
In 1948, former Vice President Henry Wallace testified before the House Foreign Affairs committee while running for president on the Progressive Party ticket. He spoke about foreign aid and defended his support for the Soviet Union, according to the U.S. Senate historian’s office.