“This information, the name of a human source, is some of the most protected information in our intelligence community, the release of which could jeopardize not only national security but also human lives,” Gowdy wrote in a letter to Democratic colleagues.
“Armed with that information,” he continued, “Secretary Clinton forwarded the e-mail to a colleague — debunking her claim that she never sent any classified information from her private e-mail address.”
Gowdy released only small excerpts from the correspondence on Thursday, and his claims about the contents of the e-mails could not be verified. Requests for comment from Clinton’s presidential campaign and a representative for Blumenthal were not immediately returned.
The decision to release further messages from Clinton points to heightened tensions on the Benghazi panel since angry Democratic members announced this week that they will release a full transcript from a closed-door interview with Clinton aide Cheryl Mills. The release, set for next week, will come over Republican objections. Democrats argue it is necessary to correct false impressions nurtured by the GOP about Clinton’s response to the 2012 terrorist attacks.
The brewing fight takes place against the backdrop of preparations for a public hearing with Clinton on Oct. 22. The Benghazi panel is also coming under fresh assault from Democrats after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said last week that its work helped lower Clinton’s poll numbers in the presidential race.
The comment flew in the face of Gowdy’s claims that the panel is not politically motivated, and McCarthy hastened to apologize and reverse himself.
On Thursday, McCarthy announced he was dropping out of the race to replace outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). When asked if his comments about the committee’s work played a role in his decision he said: “Well, that wasn’t helpful. I could have said it much better.”
Gowdy and his Republican colleagues have a strong interest in Blumenthal, who they described Thursday as Clinton’s “most prolific emailer” on matters related to Libya policy, and raised the possibility of bringing him back to Capitol Hill to reopen his deposition. Gowdy also indicated that the emails he will release were recently turned over by the State Department, months after the department indicated it had released all Benghazi-related emails to congressional investigators.
In a letter to Democrats, Gowdy expressed concern with Blumenthal’s emails to Clinton regarding his business interest in Libya, known as Osprey Global Solutions, a military training and logistics company. The South Carolina chairman suggested that Blumenthal was seeking to influence Clinton’s Libya policy in a way that would raise his venture’s probability of success.
It is “unsurprising,” Gowdy wrote, “that somebody who knew so little about Libya would suddenly because so interested in Libya and push an old friend in a powerful place to action — for personal profit.”
Democrats have characterized Gowdy’s focus on Blumenthal as a political fishing expedition, replacing time that could be spent questioning leaders from the Defense Department and other agencies. Rep. Elijah Cummings (R-Md.), in a statement, asked why Gowdy opposes Democrats’ desire to release the transcript from Blumenthal’s deposition.
“Clearly, Chairman Gowdy has had a terrible week. His own Republican leader admitted on national television that the Select Committee is a taxpayer-funded political campaign to attack Secretary Clinton’s bid for president,” Cummings said.
“Chairman Gowdy’s lengthy 13-page letter is a defensive and desperate attempt to save face, but it only proves that McCarthy’s statement is true — his new proposal to selectively release yet another subset of emails reveals his obsession with Secretary Clinton and no new information about the Benghazi attacks.”