Clinton Campaign: Benghazi Panel 'Solely about Playing Politics' in '16

John Podesta said that stretching the inquiry into 2016 proves that the Congressional panel has it out for Clinton.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, former United States Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and First Lady of the United States, speaks during the presentation of the German translation of her book 'Hard Choices' ('Entscheidungen' in German) at the Staatsoper in the Schiller Theater on July 6, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.

Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton's campaign signaled Wednesday that it will respond aggressively to continued Republican pressure on the 2012 Benghazi attacks, calling a House committee's timeline that could stretch into 2016 "the most telling evidence yet that their investigation is solely about playing politics in the 2016 presidential campaign."

Campaign chairman John Podesta made the charge after Bloomberg reported early Wednesday that Representative Trey Gowdy's panel might need well into next year to complete its investigation and release a report on the attacks. The extended timeframe, Podesta said in a statement, "is the latest example in a broad concerted effort by Republicans and their allies to launch false attacks against Hillary Clinton’s record and deep experience on foreign affairs and national security."

Podesta's statement is the first formal response from the two-week-old Clinton campaign on Republicans' continued digging on Benghazi and the then-secretary of state's role in responding to the incident, which left four Americans dead.

Clinton's lawyers have made clear for months that she is willing to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, even though she testified before other congressional panels in 2012 and 2013. They did so again Wednesday in a letter to the panel's Republican and Democratic members, and Podesta repeated the offer, saying that while “Hillary Clinton has already spent five hours testifying at two congressional committee hearings ... she’s happy to do it again."

Clinton's team has insisted that she testify in public, while the committee's Republican majority has pushed for it to be done behind closed doors which, Podesta said, would mean that "the American public is unable to see their true, politically motivated intentions."

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House investigators plan to announce on Thursday their plans for hearing testimony from Clinton and Gowdy he would offer "a reasonable path forward."

Podesta, meanwhile, sounded a skeptical note. "Sadly, Republicans are determined to continue to exploit this tragedy in an effort to try and hurt her campaign," he said.