Will the Blumenthal Benghazi Deposition Ever Be Public?

Democrats want the full transcript of the Clinton ally’s appearance released, but so far Republicans haven’t agreed.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 16: House Select Committee on BenghaziChairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) speaks to reporters before a closed door meeting in the House Visitors Center at the U.S. Capitol June 16, 2015 in Washington, DC. The committee is expected to question Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime advisor to former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, about communication he had with Hillary Clinton around the time of the Sept. 11, 2011 attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
National Journal
Ben Geman
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Ben Geman
June 17, 2015, 10 a.m.

Demo­crats on the House Se­lect Com­mit­tee on Benghazi pan­el are wield­ing GOP Chair­man Trey Gowdy’s own words as a weapon in their push for Re­pub­lic­ans to re­lease the tran­script of Sid­ney Blu­menth­al’s mara­thon Tues­day de­pos­ition.

They’re brist­ling at Gowdy’s plan to re­lease newly un­covered emails about Libya between Blu­menth­al and Hil­lary Clin­ton when she was sec­ret­ary of State, ar­guing the tran­script should be made pub­lic to con­tex­tu­al­ize the mes­sages and provide back­ground.

In a let­ter Wed­nes­day, the pan­el’s five Demo­crats poin­ted to Gowdy’s March com­ments in op­pos­i­tion to re­leas­ing Clin­ton’s Libya-re­lated emails that the com­mit­tee had ob­tained from the State De­part­ment (the de­part­ment re­leased them last month).

“Giv­en your own words on this top­ic warn­ing against the se­lect­ive re­lease of in­form­a­tion from the Com­mit­tee’s in­vest­ig­a­tion, it has be­come im­possible to un­der­stand your re­volving policy on when the Se­lect Com­mit­tee will re­lease in­form­a­tion and when it will not,” the let­ter states.

The Demo­crats cite Gowdy’s re­mark at a March press con­fer­ence about Clin­ton’s use of a private email serv­er, when he said, “The danger whenev­er you se­lect­ively re­lease or leak in­form­a­tion is you give a dis­pro­por­tion­ate amount of at­ten­tion and im­port­ance to whatever you’ve leaked, which is why we don’t do it.”

Wed­nes­day’s Demo­crat­ic let­ter states: “Rather than se­lect­ively leak­ing only cer­tain in­form­a­tion about Mr. Blu­menth­al, the Amer­ic­an people de­serve the be­ne­fit of Mr. Blu­menth­al’s re­sponses to the hun­dreds of ques­tions that you and oth­er Se­lect Com­mit­tee Mem­bers asked him, in­clud­ing ques­tions about these same emails.”

Blu­menth­al, a long­time ally of the Clin­tons, sent a suite of lengthy memos to Hil­lary Clin­ton with in­tel­li­gence in­form­a­tion about Libya in 2011 and 2012.

On the eve of his de­pos­ition, Re­pub­lic­ans on the com­mit­tee re­vealed that Blu­menth­al had provided the pan­el with roughly 60 emails that wer­en’t part of Clin­ton’s Libya-re­lated emails that the State De­part­ment turned over to the com­mit­tee early this year.

Gowdy told re­port­ers on Tues­day that he would con­sider rank­ing Demo­crat Eli­jah Cum­mings’ call for re­lease of the de­pos­ition tran­script. But he noted that the tran­scripts of in­ter­views with oth­er wit­nesses who have ap­peared in private in the probe have not been re­leased.

“I will give Mr. Cum­mings an op­por­tun­ity to con­vince me … that we should treat this wit­ness dif­fer­ently than the way we have treated every oth­er wit­ness,” Gowdy said Tues­day in the Cap­it­ol.

Blu­menth­al, however, is the first per­son to be de­posed by the pan­el prob­ing the 2012 at­tacks on a dip­lo­mat­ic com­pound and CIA fa­cil­ity that killed Amb. Chris Stevens and three oth­er Amer­ic­ans. Last month, Re­pub­lic­ans served Blu­menth­al a sub­poena com­pel­ling his testi­mony.

“The fact of the mat­ter is that you are the one treat­ing Mr. Blu­menth­al dif­fer­ently,” the let­ter states, adding: “You are the one who forced Mr. Blu­menth­al to ap­pear at a man­dat­ory de­pos­ition — the only one the Se­lect Com­mit­tee has held in the year since it was es­tab­lished — rather than a vol­un­tary tran­scribed in­ter­view like every in­di­vidu­al be­fore him.”

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