A House panel Tuesday formally requested Hillary Clinton to testify about the private server and email account she used while serving as secretary of state.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi, sent a request to Clinton’s personal attorney, David E. Kendall, requesting that Clinton appear before the committee no later than May 1 for a transcribed interview about the server and email.
The request comes after Kendall told Gowdy that the server had been wiped clean and that it would be impossible to recover the 30,000 emails Clinton deleted last year.
Gowdy, in his request to Kendall, also asked Clinton to “reconsider” her refusal to turn over the server to a neutral third party, which he called “highly unusual, if not unprecedented.”
Clinton said she only deleted personal emails and turned over every work-related message to the State Department, which is reviewing the data to filter out classified information.
“Because of the Secretary’s unique arrangement with herself as it relates to public records during and after her tenure as Secretary of State.” Gowdy wrote, “this Committee is left with no alternative but to request Secretary Clinton appear before this Committee for a transcribed interview to better understand decisions the Secretary made relevant to the creation, maintenance, retention, and ultimately deletion of public records.”
In Tuesday’s letter, Gowdy warned that Clinton’s decision not to turn over the server, “the House of Representatives as a whole will need to consider its next steps.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, of Maryland, who serves as the top Democrat on the Benghazi panel, said in a statement to the Washington Examiner that Gowdy’s depiction of Clinton is inaccurate because Clinton has always been willing to talk to the panel under oath.
“Secretary Clinton agreed to testify months ago – in public and under oath – so the Select Committee’s claim that it has no choice but to subject her to a private staff interview is inaccurate,” Cummings said. “Rather than drag out this political charade into 2016 and selectively leak portions of a closed-door interview, the Committee should schedule the public hearing, make her records public and re-focus its efforts on the attacks in Benghazi.”
The House has the power to subpoena the server, but neither Gowdy nor House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will say whether it will use that authority. Boehner has demanded Clinton turn over the server.
Gowdy said he wants a neutral party to examine the deleted emails to find out of there is any information related to the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The House panel wants to examine the State Department’s role before, during and after the attack.
Gowdy noted in the letter that even though Clinton said she deleted the emails, it is “technically possible,” to retrieve them.
On May 22, 2013, Lois Lerner, the director of the IRS division that singled out hundreds of conservative organizations blamed her subordinates for the targeting scandal, pleaded the Fifth Amendment, and then left the room.
Today House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) called Lois Lerner back to Congress to testify.
The Hill reported:
House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is hauling Lois Lerner back to Congress.
Issa told Lerner’s attorney in a Tuesday letter that he expected the retired IRS official to appear before his committee on March 5.
Lerner, the official at the center of the IRS targeting controversy, invoked her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination at a May 2013 hearing, just days after she apologized for the agency’s treatment of Tea Party groups.
But the Oversight Committee later ruled that Lerner waived her rights by making an opening statement, setting the stage for her recall next week.
In his letter to William Taylor, Lerner’s attorney, Issa said that her testimony “remains critical to this committee’s investigation.”
“Because the committee explicitly rejected her Fifth Amendment privilege claim, I expect her to provide answers when the hearing reconvenes on March 5,” Issa wrote.
Taylor told The Hill he would probably respond to Issa on Wednesday.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the top Democrat at House Oversight, said that “only one thing has changed in the nine months since Lois Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right in response to Republican accusations of criminal activity – it’s an election year.”
Three more eyewitnesses to the Benghazi terrorist attack on September 11, 2012, will finally have the opportunity to speak to Members of Congress next week.
Without increasing insistence from the Hill, it is highly unlikely that their accounts would ever be heard. From day one, the Obama White House has been presenting misleading narratives about the events that night, and gag orders have aimed to keep survivors silent. Kudos to Senator Lindsey Graham (R–SC) and others in Congress for keeping the pressure up.
Three CIA employees who were eyewitnesses to the attack are expected to testify in a closed-door session before the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. They will add to the previously deposed firsthand accounts of the two security agents to the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee.
The Obama Administration does not want this to happen. In a letter to Senator Graham, the State Department cited Justice Department advice that the eyewitnesses could be needed for a criminal trial, which could be jeopardized by their congressional testimony. Ironically for an Administration that failed to provide adequate security in Benghazi, concern for the eyewitnesses’ safety was also given as a reason.
Both excuses are pretty flimsy, particularly since not a single one of the Benghazi attackers has been apprehended more than a year after the event. And the State Department has not even posted a reward for any information leading to their capture.
Having finally gotten some of the eyewitnesses to come forward, Members of Congress will have to be prepared to help shield them from the potential reprisals from the Obama Administration.
The deputy chief of mission in Tripoli, Gregory Hicks, was punished for testifying before Congress by having his career sidelined at the State Department. He is currently on leave from State, having landed as a visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
And a key witness in the compelling 60 Minutes segment on Benghazi that aired on October 27, Dylan Davies, a British defense contractor, who appeared under the pseudonym Morgan Jones, has found himself in a firestorm of allegations that he changed his narrative to sell his new book. Davies, meanwhile, has challenged the FBI to release his original post-Benghazi deposition to show that it was consistent with his on-air account. The FBI has refused.
Congressional oversight should not let up. As the Obama Administration has clammed up, and most of the media has been whistling past the graveyard, it is the only way the truth will come out.