- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 8, 2015

Rather than cooperate, Democrats have tried to thwart the Benghazi probe from within since the beginning, the special panel’s chairman said in a letter released Thursday that accused Democrats of bad faith and also announced the release of emails that call into question the relationship between former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and her associate Sidney Blumenthal.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican, said it was Democrats, not members of his party, who “selectively leaked information” to try to set the political narrative about the probe.

Mr. Gowdy said Democrats have been more interested in that than in participating in the investigation, and accused the top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, of acting as defender of Mrs. Clinton rather than as an honest auditor.

“Your duty as ranking member of this committee has not been to the American public, but to your Democrat colleagues and to the administration, including former Secretary Clinton,” Mr. Gowdy said in a lengthy letter. “This is evidenced by your complete lack of interest in gathering any facts whatsoever, and instead spending the majority of your time issuing press releases describing Democrat strawmen which no one is investigating except Democrats and you.”

The letter comes as the probe is under renewed pressure to finish its work, with editorial boards questioning its worth after more than a year of investigation. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, made matters worse when he said the committee helped dent Mrs. Clinton’s presidential aspirations, lending a partisan tint to what GOP leaders insist is an impartial investigation.

Mr. Gowdy’s letter says it is Democrats who have treated the probe as partisan, foiling efforts to provide information and instead playing defense.

Mr. Cummings, in a statement, said Mr. Gowdy’s letter was “a defensive and desperate attempt to save face,” but that it rang hollow.

“Clearly, Chairman Gowdy has had a terrible week. His own Republican leader admitted on national television that the Select Committee is a taxpayer-funded political campaign to attack Secretary Clinton’s bid for president,” Mr. Cummings said.

He said that was underscored by Mr. Gowdy’s letter, which didn’t reveal any new details about the deadly attack in 2012, but did talk about more Clinton emails.

The attack by Islamist terrorists on the diplomatic post in Libya’s second city killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador.

Mr. Gowdy said his investigation is raising serious questions about the State Department’s internal review of its operations.

Mr. Gowdy also described Mr. Blumenthal, whom the Obama White House told Mrs. Clinton not to bring on board during her time as secretary, as her “primary adviser” on Libya — where Mr. Blumenthal had business interests.

The chairman said he will release some 500 pages of emails next week from Mr. Blumenthal to Mrs. Clinton showing he kept feeding Mrs. Clinton information on Libya ahead of and during the U.S.-led campaign to oust longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Mr. Blumenthal was among the earliest to push for the U.S. to establish a no-fly zone, and he was also a feverish critic of President Obama’s policy, urging the president to consider Libya as a political vulnerability in the November elections.

Blumenthal was neither a State Department employee nor an employee of the federal government nor an expert on Libya, by his own admission. The fact that former Secretary Clinton relied so heavily on an individual for the Libyan intervention, her quintessential foreign policy initiative, whom the White House explicitly prohibited from working at the State Department is mind boggling,” Mr. Gowdy wrote in the 13-page letter.

Mr. Cummings said if Mr. Gowdy is going to release the Blumenthal emails, he should also release the transcript of the committee’s deposition of Mr. Blumenthal, where he answered questions about his emails.

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