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.”