The way things are going, the House Select Committee on Benghazi will never release the testimony of Sidney Blumenthal, who, let us make no bones about it, is solemnly accused of being a friend of Hillary Clinton’s. Of that he is no doubt guilty, caught red-handed by his leaked e-mails to her, her responses to him, a vast public record, his utterances in public and private, his employment by the Clinton Foundation, his work in the Clinton White House and other such matters. But in one of the incriminating e-mails, Blumenthal urged Clinton to “help Clio now” and become more public about her role in the overthrow of Moammar Gaddafi, late of Libya (and of this world), understandably triggering the quivering suspicions of Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.). Who or what is this Clio? he inquired.
The Greek goddess of history, Blumenthal responded under oath.
For this and other reasons, it is not likely the transcript will be made public.
The other reasons are just as cogent. The committee, the eighth to look into the Benghazi matter and determine if Clinton, as secretary of state, was somehow complicit in the deaths of four colleagues — you know, those Clintons are capable of anything — asked Blumenthal 160 questions regarding his relationship with Clinton and fewer than 20 regarding Benghazi. (The Democratic minority kept count.)
The committee also asked Blumenthal more than 50 questions about his relationship with the Clinton Foundation and only four about security in Benghazi . Blumenthal was additionally asked more than 270 questions about his business dealings in Libya, which, considering that he has none, is commendable thoroughness run amok.
The committee in its wisdom came to appreciate that regarding Libya, Blumenthal not only had no business interests there, but also that he had never even been in the country . The e-mails concerning Libya that he had passed on to Clinton had come originally from Tyler Drumheller, the CIA’s one-time top spy and someone who just might have had something interesting to say . It seemed reasonable to Blumenthal to relay them to Clinton and it seemed reasonable for her to relay them to her staff for vetting. In fact, it seems downright admirable, because the last thing you want is a government official who operates in a bubble. Given what the committee learned, its Republican majority then nimbly pivoted from insinuating a Blumenthal conflict of interest over Libya to accusing him of having nothing of interest to say about it. They got him there.
Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) put it all down on paper. In a letter to the ranking member, Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), he accused Blumenthal of unpardonable ignorance about things Libyan and then, sensing he was on to something, accused Clinton of wasting her time listening to him. “So the real question is not why did the Committee talk to Witness Blumenthal about Benghazi and Libya; rather, why did Secretary Clinton do so?”
No, Mr. Chairman. The real question is why did you subpoena Blumenthal in the first place? Why did you subject him to over nine hours of questioning? Why has your committee selectively leaked information to make him look bad and why oh why did you say that Clinton was lying when she said that Blumenthal’s e-mails were unsolicited? Blumenthal’s lawyer, James M. Cole, a former deputy attorney general, called these and other of your statements “inaccurate representations.” That does not sound good.
The 2012 attack on the U.S. Embassy outpost in Benghazi was a tragedy compounded by some mistakes. Four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens , died and their deaths have had a deleterious effect on American diplomacy. U.S. diplomats are kept on a short leash. Congress has looked into this over and over again, and despite the heroic efforts of many Republicans, Hillary Clinton has proved to be not at fault — although Susan Rice, then the U.N. ambassador, waltzed through the Sunday talk shows after the attack tossing the verbal equivalent of chaff. But the truth, as occasionally happens, won out. The matter should be settled.
God only knows how much these many investigations have cost. But the expense to the government, as opposed to Blumenthal’s, is a trivial matter. What matters much more is Congress’s abuse of power — a transparent attempt to placate the twisted conspiracy theories of right-wing Clinton haters. “Witness Blumenthal,” an appellation with an eerie Stalinist ring to it, has now been accused of knowing Libya too little and Clinton too much. No wonder Republicans want to keep Guantanamo open.
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