- The Washington Times - Friday, March 18, 2016

An Air Force reservist has backed off a claim that he was fired from the House Select Committee on Benghazi for his refusal to participate in what he said had become a partisan probe “hyper-focused” on Hillary Clinton.

Maj. Bradley Podliska charged in a federal lawsuit last year that his firing was retaliatory for remaining neutral in the investigation, but his attorneys set that claim aside late last month, spurring congressional Congress to say the whole case should be called off.

His attorneys quietly filed an amended complaint on Feb. 20 in which the panel’s alleged anti-Clinton bias is no longer blamed. Instead, he claims that he was retaliated against because he had briefly left the probe so he could serve as a reservist — a factor listed in the original complaint but is now the sole reason cited for his firing.

The updated lawsuit went unreported until Politico ran an article Thursday.

In the initial complaint filed last year, Maj. Podliska’s attorneys said “he was being singled out because of his military service and because he was unwilling to go along with the hyper-focus on the State Department and Secretary Clinton based upon the fact that his comprehensive, thorough, and objective investigation was pointing at other agencies and individuals and not solely the State Department and Secretary Clinton.”

Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican, maintained that Maj. Podliska had been fired because of “deficient performance” and allegations he had “mishandle[d] classified information.”

“The committee did not and does not discriminate or retaliate based on military service, military status or any other unlawful factor,” Jamal Ware, a communications director for the Benghazi panel, told The Washington Times when the suit was brought in November.

The House had previously argued that Maj. Podliska’s case is invalid since the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) doesn’t allow for mixed-motive claims.

“In his October 11 interview with Jake Tapper, and in the factual allegations of the initial Complaint, Plaintiff chose to blanket the world with his claim that he was fired because he refused to go along with what he asserted was the improper focus of the Committee’s investigation on Secretary Clinton. Presumably, this was a calculated decision Plaintiff made to increase the likelihood he would receive his ‘fifteen minutes of fame.’ However, that decision also established a record — a record that this Court can and should take notice of — that now makes it impossible for Plaintiff to proceed with his USERRA claims,” the panel’s lawyers wrote in the March 8 filing.

A representative for the Benghazi committee told The Washington Times Friday that the panel cannot comment on ongoing litigation. Last month, before Maj. Podliska amended his complaint, its attorneys said his claim concerning the focus on Mrs. Clinton was “not rooted in reality.”

“We are now in active litigation, and like the Committee we will not be commenting on pending motions,” Peter Romer-Friedman, an attorney for Maj. Podliska, told Politico this week. “We look forward to the truth coming out in a court of law.”

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