Angry over what they characterize as misleading Republican leaks to the press, Democrats on the committee investigating the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi are finally fighting fire with fire.
Democrats are announcing their intention to unilaterally release full transcripts of private interviews that the committee has conducted, starting with the testimony of Hillary Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills. It’s a dramatic move from the five Democrats on the committee, which under the direction of Rep. Elijah Cummings has so far insisted that it won’t leak information to journalists while the investigation is underway.
“Despite claims that the Committee would be run with integrity, Republicans have engaged in a series of selective leaks of inaccurate and incomplete information in an effort to attack Secretary Clinton with unsubstantiated or previously debunked allegations,” the five lawmakers wrote Monday in a letter to Republican Chairman Trey Gowdy.
The move comes just weeks before Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton is expected to testify before the controversial committee.
The Democrats argue that this step became necessary after Republicans leaked information from the committee’s interview with Mills, and said that Gowdy has five days to point out information in the transcripts that should not be released. They assert that Republicans on the committee have taken similarly unilateral steps in the past, such as releasing a number of Clinton’s emails without the consent of the committee’s Democrats.
“We do not take this action lightly. We have held off on taking such action for more than a year, but we will no longer sit and watch selective, out-of-context leaks continue to mischaracterize the testimony the Select Committee has received,” the letter by Democratic members states.
Democratic efforts to press back against the committee have reached an apex in the past week, as they attempt to capitalize on a misstep by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who linked the committee’s efforts to a political effort to hobble Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House.
“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee. A select committee,” McCarthy said on Fox. “What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known that any of that had happened had we not fought to make that happen.”
McCarthy has since walked back those remarks, insisting that he did “not intend to imply in any way that that work is political.”
Clinton herself showed some anger about the Benghazi investigation on The Today Show Monday morning, saying that Republican had chosen to “go after me for political reasons.”
But none of this has so far quieted the furor surrounding Clinton’s use of a private email server, which Clinton herself has admitted was hurtful to her campaign’s popularity. The State Department, meanwhile, will continue to release the former Secretary of State’s emails on a monthly basis.
“It is like a drip, drip, drip,” Clinton has said.