- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 14, 2015

The State Department has failed to comply with requests for information about Benghazi, likely delaying the highly anticipated testimony from former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi said.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican, says the committee needs to have complete records in order to be able to form substantive questions for Mrs. Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on a U.S. compound that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

“I have no interest in prolonging the time before she appears before the committee, but I do have an interest in assuring the committee has access to all the facts,” Mr. Gowdy said.

Mr. Gowdy wrote in a letter to Secretary of State John F. Kerry, dated May 14, that he has said he would schedule Mrs. Clinton’s appearance no later than 30 days after receiving a record “sufficient to constructively ask questions of Secretary Clinton.”

Mr. Gowdy had wanted Mrs. Clinton to testify twice before his committee — once about her exclusive use of a private email system while serving as the nation’s top diplomat and once about the attack itself.

But Mrs. Clinton’s lawyer said she would appear once, in public, as early as the week of May 18 — a time frame Mr. Gowdy had suggested for the first of her appearances.

“The only thing standing between the committee and the former secretary being able to discuss her tenure as secretary of state as it relates to Libya and Benghazi is the Department of State’s failure, in more than half a year, to produce a single, solitary email responsive to our request and subpoena,” Mr. Gowdy wrote to Mr. Kerry.

“There is still the possibility of scheduling the former secretary’s appearance soon, but that is contingent upon Department of State compliance,” Mr. Gowdy wrote.

Democrats on the committee have said the panel is turning into little more than a vehicle with which to attack Mrs. Clinton, the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, while Mr. Gowdy has rejected such claims, pledging to conduct a fair and thorough investigation.

In response to the letter, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat and the committee’s ranking member, said Republicans are on a “fishing expedition” for anything they can use against Mrs. Clinton in her presidential campaign.

“The committee has had Secretary Clinton’s emails for months,” Mr. Cummings said in a statement. “This new claim that the department has not produced a single responsive document is completely baseless and appears to be yet another excuse to drag out Secretary Clinton’s testimony until closer to the election.”

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

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