ED. NOTE: An earlier version of this piece included an incorrect statement about Sidney Blumenthal's whereabouts on the date of the 2012 Benghazi attacks, stating that Blumenthal was in Libya. The Daily Beast regrets this error.
The lawyer for Clinton ally Sidney Blumenthal demanded Friday that Republicans investigating the Benghazi attacks stop selectively leaking his emails to the press, accusing the leaks of “distorting the truth by mischaracterizing facts and circumstances.
Blumenthal’s representative asked for all of his emails and transcripts his private testimony Tuesday to be immediately release to the public in its entirety.
Democrats have accused the House Select Committee on Benghazi of becoming increasingly politicized, and veering away from an even-handed investigation into a political fishing expedition. The committee grilled Blumenthal for some nine hours on Tuesday.
Democrats on the committee pointed to the nature of the questions to allege that Republicans were more interested in finding dirt on Hillary Clinton than investigating the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks in Libya.
In an entire day of questioning Blumenthal, Republicans posed more than 270 questions about his alleged business activities in Libya; more than 160 questions about his relationship and communications with the Clintons; more than 50 about the Clinton Foundation; and more than 45 about David Brock, Media Matters and related activities, according to a fact sheet from Democratic committee members.
The number of questions Republicans asked Blumenthal about the Benghazi attacks during a day of questioning? Less than 20. And just four about security in Benghazi.
Blumenthal’s lawyer complained about “numerous leaks about his emails and testimony. many of which have given an inaccurate account of what occurred in the deposition.”
“The investigation is not going, I think, in a productive direction. We said at the beginning that the question what happened at Benghazi, what we can learn from it, how we can try to prevent future attacks, also how we hold anyone accountable,” said Democratic Rep. Adam Smith, a member of the Benghazi committee, earlier this week. “Now of course we’re sidelighting into stuff involving Blumenthal and Hillary that is only tangentially at best involved with Benghazi. I think its pretty clear at this point that this is a political investigation focused on Hillary.”
Gowdy dismissed the charge, telling reporters, “I fail to see how we’re playing politics by talking to someone who sent a large number of memos to the top diplomat we have here in the relevant time period. If that is playing politics, then we just ought to shutter Congress and not do any more investigations.”
This week a number of reports emerged, citing emails that Blumenthal had turned over to the Benghazi committee—none of which are publicly available.
In order to correct the record, Blumenthal’s lawyer asked the committee’s Republican chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy to “release the full transcript right away. Mr. Blumenthal fully cooperated… and answered every question asked. The public deserves to know the whole truth about what occurred during his deposition, and fairness demands it.”
Blumenthal cites four articles that included inside information from the Benghazi committee and privileged congressional sources: a National Review article that included a note from Blumenthal about how to spin the end of Qadhafi’s regime; a Bloomberg View article that showed Blumenthal apparently giving Clinton bad intel on Qadhafi; a Politico article that gives insight into questioning that Blumenthal received during the deposition; and a Fox News article that described how Blumenthal had received $200,000 from the David Brock network.
“Leaks like these are distorting the truth by mischaracterizing facts and circumstances. They are creating an incomplete and unfair narrative about the deposition, Mr. Blumenthal’s knowledge about Libya, and the tragedy that occurred in Benghazi,” Blumenthal’s lawyer wrote.
The House Select Committee on Benghazi grilled Hillary Clinton associate Sidney Blumenthal for the better part of a day earlier this week, following his weekend disclosure of emails to the committee that it had previously not had access to.
If there was a major breakthrough of some kind for the investigation into the attacks that killed four Americans—you wouldn’t know it.
Emails disclosed by the State Department last month revealed that Blumenthal regularly emailed then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with supposed on-the-ground intelligence about Libya and its government. But Blumenthal wasn’t a State Department employee—the Obama administration blocked Clinton’s attempt to hire him—and other State Department officials often doubted Blumenthal’s information.
Last Friday, Blumenthal responded to a subpoena from the select committee by turning over nearly 60 previously unseen emails, raising questions about whether the State Department or Clinton herself had kept those documents from the Benghazi committee.