Benghazi Panel Democrats Say Clinton Did Nothing Improper

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Hillary Clinton smiles during a House Select Committee on Benghazi hearing in Washington on Oct. 22, 2015.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
  • The committee minority sought to preempt Republican findings
  • ‘Secretary Clinton never personally denied’ security requests

House Democrats issued a report Monday blasting a Republican-led panel investigating the administration’s response to the Benghazi attacks, saying it has found little new information while targeting Hillary Clinton politically.

The minority report of the Select Committee on Benghazi was a preemptive strike before the expected announcement of findings by the panel’s majority, led by Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina. The attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound and a CIA outpost on Sept. 11, 2012, killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, while Clinton was secretary of state. The episode continues to echo as an issue in the Democrat’s campaign for president.

“We are issuing our own report today because, after spending more than two years and $7 million in taxpayer funds in one of the longest and most partisan congressional investigations in history, it is long past time for the Select Committee to conclude its work,” the Democrats said.

Republican Response

In response, a spokesman for Gowdy and other Republicans on the committee said that the Democrats were the ones obsessed with Clinton and called them dishonest in claiming the panel had found nothing new.

“As Chairman Gowdy has said, this is not about one person. This investigation is about the four brave Americans we lost in Libya: Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty," said the spokesman, Matt Wolking. "That is how the majority has conducted its thorough investigation, and we look forward to revealing the new information we have uncovered to the families and the American people.”

Gowdy, a former prosecutor, has frequently defended the long-running probe on the grounds that it has discovered or assessed new evidence, including Clinton’s use of a private e-mail address and server, in the face of “serial delays” by the Obama administration.

The Democrats’ report Monday finds:

  • “The Defense Department couldn’t have done anything differently on the night of the attacks that would have saved the lives” of the four Americans.

  • “The State Department’s security measures in Benghazi were woefully inadequate as a result of decisions made by officials in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, but Secretary Clinton never personally denied any requests for additional security in Benghazi.”

  • “The Intelligence Community’s assessments evolved after the attacks as more information became available, but they were not influenced by political considerations.”

  • “Administration officials did not make intentionally misleading statements about the attacks, but instead relied on information they were provided at the time under fast-moving circumstances.”

The 339-page report accuses Gowdy of conducting the investigation “like an overzealous prosecutor desperately trying to land a front-page conviction rather than a neutral judge of facts seeking to improve the security of our diplomatic corps.”

The Democrats, who said they will post the committee’s unclassified interview transcripts online, also asserted that the panel’s Republicans have waited to release their report “until directly before the presidential conventions for maximum political impact.”

In 2015, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy credited the investigation with hurting Clinton’s poll numbers.

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has said Clinton holds blame for the attacks. In a June 22 speech, he said Ambassador Stevens “was left helpless to die as Hillary Clinton soundly slept in her bed.” The attack actually unfolded during the daytime and early evening in the U.S., and Clinton was involved in discussing how the U.S. could respond.

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