- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 22, 2015

House Speaker John A. Boehner said Wednesday that the Obama administration has made it “virtually impossible” to get to the facts surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, as the special panel investigating the attack indicated its inquiry could continue into 2016.

“They could clean this up a whole lot quicker if the administration and former Secretary Clinton were in a position to actually cooperate with the committee and turn over the kind of information that we’ve been seeking for some time,” Mr. Boehner told reporters. “But the administration has made it virtually impossible to get to the facts surrounding Benghazi. And so when we have the facts, we’ll have a report.”

Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican and chairman of the committee, said he hopes the committee can finish its work by the end of the year. But a spokesman for the committee said Wednesday that factors beyond the committee’s control could affect that timing.

“Factors beyond the committee’s control, including witness availability, compliance with documents requests, the granting of security clearances and accreditations — all of which are controlled by the executive branch — could continue to impact the timing of the inquiry’s conclusion,” said spokesman Jamal Ware.

Mr. Gowdy wants former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to appear twice before the panel; the first appearance would be for a transcribed interview by May 1 on her decision-making in creating a private email system while serving as the nation’s top diplomat.

Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state at the time of the attack, which claimed the lives of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens.

“The first time would be about the email arrangement that she had with herself, because at the end of that conversation, we need to assure ourselves that we have every document that we’re entitled to as it relates to Libya and Benghazi,” Mr. Gowdy said Wednesday on Fox News.

He wrote to Mrs. Clinton’s attorney last month requesting a transcribed interview with Mrs. Clinton no later than May 1.

The former secretary of state explained last month before that request that she used a private email system as the nation’s top diplomat out of convenience and that she turned over approximately 30,000 emails she deemed work related to the State Department in December.

She said she followed proper rules and regulations in doing so. Her lawyer has said they will not turn her private server over to a third party arbiter and that it’s been wiped clean.

Mrs. Clinton officially announced she is running for president in 2016 earlier this month. Her camp did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether Mrs. Clinton would comply with Mr. Gowdy’s request. But campaign chairman John Podesta told Bloomberg, which first reported on the possible time frame for the committee’s work, that Mrs. Clinton would not testify privately but that she would do so publicly.

In a statement, Rep. Elijah Cummings, Maryland Democrat and ranking member of the committee, said that instead of “targeting” Mrs. Clinton, “we should honor the promises we made to the victims’ families to not make this investigation a political football and work to ensure that this never happens again.”

“Does anybody even remember anymore that we were supposed to be investigating the attacks in Benghazi?” Mr. Cummings said. “With the Republicans’ obsessive focus on Hillary Clinton, and their now stated intention to drag out this political charade until just months before the 2016 election, the Select Committee no longer bears any resemblance to its original purpose.”

But Mr. Gowdy has said the 2016 election will not be a factor in the committee’s work and that Mrs. Clinton has only herself to blame for the email issue.

“I didn’t tell her to get a personal server. I didn’t tell her to hire her attorney to go through these 60,000 records, and Lord knows I didn’t tell her to delete 30,000 of them,” he said last month on “Fox News Sunday.”

Mr. Gowdy also said Wednesday they’ve had “20 some odd transcribed interviews since January” with witnesses and they’re interviewing people that have never been interviewed before.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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