Clin­ton camp, House panel clash over tes­ti­mony on Beng­hazi

The Washington Post Sunday - - POLITICS & THE NATION - BY ANNE GEARAN anne.gearan@wash­post.com

Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton’s cam­paign said Satur­day that she will tes­tify Oct. 22 be­fore the House se­lect com­mit­tee in­ves­ti­gat­ing her role in con­nec­tion with the deaths of four Amer­i­cans in Beng­hazi, Libya — an as­ser­tion that was al­most im­me­di­ately chal­lenged by a spokesman for the com­mit­tee.

Clin­ton cam­paign spokesman Nick Mer­rill an­nounced the date and said her tes­ti­mony would be public.

But Ja­mal Ware, a spokesman for the com­mit­tee, said the tim­ing is not set be­cause of on­go­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions with Clin­ton’s lawyer over ground rules.

The wran­gling is of a piece with months of back-and-forth be­tween the Repub­li­can-led com­mit­tee and Clin­ton, whose al­lies ac­cuse the panel of con­duct­ing a fish­ing ex­pe­di­tion for dam­ag­ing ma­te­rial that might be used against her as she runs for pres­i­dent in 2016.

U.S. Am­bas­sador J. Christo­pher Stevens and three oth­ers were killed when mil­i­tants over­ran two U.S. com­pounds in Beng­hazi in Septem­ber 2012, in the wan­ing months of Clin­ton’s term as sec­re­tary of state. She has said that she had no di­rect role in se­cu­rity de­ci­sions sur­round­ing the U.S. fa­cil­i­ties, but Repub­li­can crit­ics claim that her State Depart­ment de­nied pro­tec­tions that might have pre­vented the at­tack.

As of Fri­day, Clin­ton’s at­tor­ney, David Kendall, was still ne­go­ti­at­ing terms for his client’s ap­pear­ance, Ware said.

“On the grounds of sim­ple fair­ness and in or­der to make ap­pro­pri­ate prepa­ra­tion pos­si­ble, the scope of the ques­tion­ing [should] be con­sis­tent with the scope set for thin the res­o­lu­tion es­tab­lish­ing the Se­lect Com­mit­tee on the Events Sur­round­ing the 2012 Ter­ror­ist At­tack in Beng­hazi,” Kendall wrote Fri­day, ac­cord­ing to an ex­cerpt of the let­ter that the com­mit­tee re­leased Satur­day.

Clin­ton had long of­fered to tes­tify in public, but the com­mit­tee chair­man, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), had ini­tially said he pre­ferred a pri­vate in­ter­view. Although Gowdy said he was try­ing to keep the ses­sion from be­com­ing a cir­cus, Clin­ton’s team ob­jected on grounds that a closed ses­sion could al­low Repub­li­cans to se­lec­tively leak un­flat­ter­ing de­tails.

Gowdy has also said that he needs more doc­u­ments from the State Depart­ment be­fore he ques­tions Clin­ton.

The com­mit­tee on Satur­day ap­peared to re­ject Kendall’s terms, which in­cluded that the scope of ques­tion­ing be lim­ited and that the hear­ing date, once set, would not change.

Ware also said in the news re­lease that Kendall had pre­vi­ously agreed that Clin­ton would an­swer ques­tions about “her un­usual email ar­range­ment,” re­fer­ring to her use of a pri­vate e-mail sys­tem for gov­ern­ment busi­ness, in­clud­ing a server in her home.

“Her e-mail ar­range­ment clearly falls within the scope of the Se­lect Com­mit­tee’s ju­ris­dic­tion,” Ware con­tin­ued.

“The Com­mit­tee will not, now or ever, ac­cept ar­ti­fi­cial lim­i­ta­tions on its con­gres­sion­ally-di­rected ju­ris­dic­tion,” Ware said in the state­ment. “Once there is an agree­ment on the date and a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of how, if at all, Sec­re­tary Clin­ton’s lawyer’s latest writ­ing dif­fers from pre­vi­ous ones, the Com­mit­tee will an­nounce said hear­ing date.”

Clin­ton’s lawyer has also ac­cused the com­mit­tee of try­ing to drag out its in­ves­ti­ga­tion into 2016 to use it as a cud­gel against the Demo­cratic front-run­ner.

Her cam­paign also said Satur­day that it does not want any de­lay in the re­lease of her e-mails from the pri­vate ac­count she used while she was sec­re­tary of state be­cause of “bu­reau­cratic in fight­ing among the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity.”

The in­spec­tor gen­eral of the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity said he found in­for­ma­tion that should have been clas­si­fied in a small sam­ple of Clin­ton’s e-mails and made a “se­cu­rity re­fer­ral” to the DOJ un­der a fed­eral law that re­quires the FBI to be alerted to any pos­si­ble com­pro­mise of na­tional se­cu­rity in­for­ma­tion.

Clin­ton ad­dressed ques­tions about her e-mails af­ter a Demo­cratic event in Iowa on Satur­day. “I am­con­fi­dent that I never sent nor re­ceived any in­for­ma­tion that was clas­si­fied at the time it was sent or re­ceived,” she told re­porters.

She said she had “no idea” what the e-mails cited by the IG were about.

Clin­ton turned over 30,000 emails to the State Depart­ment af­ter her use of a pri­vate sys­tem be­came an is­sue. The e-mails are be­ing re­viewed for re­lease to Congress and the public.

Ex­cerpted from wash­ing­ton­post.com/blogs/ post­pol­i­tics

MELINA MARA/THE WASHINGTON POST

Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton speaks to vot­ers in Iowa on Satur­day. Clin­ton is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated for her use of a pri­vate e-mail ac­count.

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