Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) said committee Republicans are also not finished digging through e-mails sent by then-Secretary of State Clinton and other department officials, including Libya ambassador Chris Stevens, who was among the four Americans killed in the September 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
“We know [the State Department has] many more they have not given us, and not just of the secretary’s, but many more e-mails and communications and documents and discussions,” Brooks told reporters Friday off the House floor.
Republicans’ plans are under scrutiny after Thursday’s interview with Clinton failed to provide new details about the 2012 attacks. Democrats are increasingly charging that the panel is a partisan tool being used to damage their party’s presidential race front-runner.
Clinton emerged largely unscathed from the 11-hour hearing, an event that served as a milestone for a House investigation that has been marred by allegations of political animus.
Even Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) could not say immediately after the hearing whether the GOP learned anything it did not already know during its questioning of Clinton.
Looking forward, committee members said Friday they were in the process of scheduling interviews with Panetta, Gates and Petraeus. Unlike Clinton’s appearance, those interviews are expected to take place behind closed doors.
“Over the next several weeks, the committee has scheduled two witness interviews with individuals whose identities must remain secret,” spokesman Jamal Ware wrote in an e-mail. “Other witnesses have been identified and invited, and we will conduct additional interviews during this timeframe. The committee also has a number of unfulfilled document requests that are still outstanding.”
Republicans planned to interview military and intelligence officials earlier in the process, but Democrats allege they changed their plans after the discovery that Clinton used a private e-mail server during her time as secretary of state.
Since that news broke in March, Republican investigators have been focused exclusively on Clinton and her inner circle, Democrats argue.
GOP members say they have not yet questioned defense and other officials because they have not obtained enough records to help them prepare for the interviews. They also note that they held Clinton’s hearing when they did to accommodate her schedule.
Clinton, for her part, was back on the campaign trail Friday, speaking before the Democratic Women’s Leadership Forum in Northern Virginia.
“As some of you may know, I had a pretty long day yesterday,” she said. “I finally got to answer questions, something I have been pushing for literally a year, and I am just grateful I recovered my voice, which I lost a little bit.”
House Democrats met privately Friday morning to discuss the way forward after the Clinton hearing.
Some members, including Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), have threatened to leave the Benghazi committee in response to what they see as Republicans’ focus on damaging Clinton’s campaign.
But in the end, Democrats said they would continue to participate for now, if only to provide a counterweight to Republican efforts.
“After meeting with Leader Pelosi today, we are calling on Speaker Boehner to immediately shut down this abusive, wasteful, and obviously partisan effort,” the panel’s five Democratic members said in a statement. “If the Speaker rejects our request, Democrats will continue to participate at this point in order to make sure the facts are known and the conspiracy theories are debunked.”
Senate Democrats also called Friday for the committee to disband.
“This committee should be shut down by the Republican leadership. As we have said, it’s a waste of time when we have to do other things. It’s not making our embassies any safer,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the presumptive next Senate Democratic leader.
Republicans on Friday declined to give a specific timetable for when their work might conclude, arguing that the State Department is stonewalling them on document requests and that witnesses are expected to have scheduling conflicts.
“These people are pretty busy. It’s just a matter of getting everybody together,” said Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.), a member of the committee.
The investigation, which has lasted 17 months and yielded thousands of pages of material from the State Department, will eventually conclude with a final report. But the writing has not yet started, said Brooks.
Will the probe go on indefinitely? reporters asked.
“No, no,” Brooks said Friday.
“We are trying to get that definitive, fact-based investigative report finished,” she said, “That will happen as soon as we can possibly make it happen, but we’ve got to finish the interviews, we’ve got to get the documents, have to finish the interviews, and then we’ll get the report going.”
Paul Kane contributed to this report.