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.”
What We're Following See More »
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has released its score of the House-passed American Health Care Act, which would replace Obamacare. According to the CBO, the bill would reduce the deficit by $119 billion by 2026, while leaving 14 million more Americans uninsured in 2018 than under current law, a number swelling to 23 million by 2026. Further, insurance premiums would balloon 20 percent in 2018 and five percent in 2019 before the waiver provision in the legislation would kick in. The provision allows states to apply for waivers and permit insurers to offer skimpier plans, which would likely entice younger and healthier individuals to buy health insurance while potentially pricing older and less healthy Americans out of insurance plans. House Republicans approved this bill in late April without waiting for the CBO score.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing that President Donald Trump's budget is little more than recycling bin material. "The budget proposed by the president doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of passing," Graham said. Graham had previously opposed the budget over its nearly 30 percent cut to the budget of the State Department. The budget slashes spending on domestic priorities while increasing military spending.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."
At an open hearing of the House Intelligence Committee, former CIA chief John Brennan said he saw information on Trump-Russia contacts that were worth a further look. "Having been involved in many counterintelligence cases in the past, I know what the Russians do. They try to suborn individuals," Brennan said. "And they try to get individuals, including U.S. persons, to act on their behalf, whether wittingly or unwittingly. And I was worried by a number of the contacts that the Russians had with U.S. persons, and so therefore by the time I left office ... I had unresolved questions in my mind."