Republicans leading the charge to investigate #Benghazi are closing in on Hillary Clinton’s inner circle.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) disclosed Monday that he plans to interview three of Clinton’s top advisers: Huma Abedin, a longtime Clinton aide; Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s former chief of staff; and Jake Sullivan, a former director of policy planning at the State Department. Gowdy, who leads the House Select Committee on Benghazi, said there are others on the list but he will not release their names “given the nature of their work.”
Sign up for The Daily 202, The Washington Post’s new political tipsheet
With the latest announcement, Gowdy is taking another slow step toward interviewing Clinton herself about the 2012 attacks that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. For now, the GOP chairman remains embroiled in a dispute with Clinton and the State Department over requests for emails related to Libya, Benghazi and the aftermath of the violence.
Bringing Abedin, Mills and Sullivan to Capitol Hill is expected to generate a new level of interest in the year-old probe. Republican lawmakers rarely have direct access to Clinton aides — Abedin specifically has been a magnet for suspicion on the right. But when the interviews will take place remains up in the air. An aide to Gowdy, Jamal Ware, emailed that the panel intends to set up interviews “as expeditiously as possible” once the State Department supplies more of the trio’s email correspondence.
The Benghazi investigation is a reliable source of partisan fireworks. Relating his plans for more interviews to his Democratic counterpart, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Gowdy accused him of failing to assist with the probe. “Rather than helping the members of the majority prepare for these interviews, you have — once again — placed your infatuation with process and politics ahead of substance,” Gowdy wrote.
Read more PowerPost
Democrats, in turn, accuse Gowdy of drawing out the probe in an effort to discredit Clinton.
“The Select Committee waited more than six months to send a request for new documents to the State Department and nearly a year to send new document requests to the Pentagon and the CIA,” Cummings’s staff fired back Monday in a statement. “The Committee has spent more than $3.7 million in taxpayer funds in the more than a year that it has operated … The Committee has also not held a single hearing in 22 weeks, despite the Chairman’s assertion that there would be public hearings on a monthly basis.”
Gowdy suggested Monday that he would not be able to conduct full interviews with Abedin, Mills and Sullivan until he has more documents.
“These interviews will prove to be challenging inasmuch as the State Department has still not provided the Committee with emails and other documents necessary to have a fully constructive conversation with these witnesses,” he wrote to Cummings.
For now, no further events have been announced.
But that does not mean quiet for the Select Committee: Gowdy and Cummings are now engaged in a nasty, sidelines spat over a leak to Politico last month about an email exchange between Clinton and confidant Sidney Blumenthal, who was deposed by the Benghazi panel on June 16.
As the Post’s Erik Wemple has reported, Cummings on Monday criticized the leaked information as “doctored,” prompting a fiery response from Gowdy hours later, prompting another critical statement from Cummings after that.