The chairman of the House select committee probing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's response to the Benghazi terror attacks signaled Wednesday that the release of a final report could slip to just months before the 2016 presidential election if the Obama administration delays producing documents and witnesses.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the Benghazi panel, denied Wednesday that the potential delay of the report was politically motivated.
“That assumes the report would be critical of [Clinton] and I don’t make that assumption because we’re still in the process of gathering facts,” he told Fox News' “On The Record.” "If the report is not critical of her, then she would probably want it to come out closer to the election but it’s not going to come out in the middle of 2016."
“I hope it doesn’t come out in 2016, period," Gowdy continued. "I hope we are done before the end of the year and I say hope because there are certain variables that I cannot control.”
However, Hillary for America Campaign Chairman John Podesta thought otherwise. Podesta said in a statement Wednesday the delay was “solely about playing politics.”
“This action is the latest example in a broad concerted effort by Republicans and their allies to launch false attacks against Hillary Clinton’s record and deep experience on foreign affairs and national security,” the statement read.
Podesta noted that the committee's investigation process would be longer than those for Iran-Contra, the Kennedy Assassination, Watergate and 9/11.
"Sadly, Republicans are determined to continue to exploit this tragedy in an effort to try and hurt her campaign,” Podesta said in the statement.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., a high ranking official of the House Select Committee on Benghazi also knocked Gowdy for delaying the report.
“Instead of targeting Secretary Clinton, we should honor the promises we made to the victims’ families to not make this investigation a political football and work to ensure that this never happens again,” Cummings said in a statement.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said earlier Wednesday that the Obama administration is not cooperating with the Benghazi panel, making it difficult for the committee to gather all the facts.
The House panel could do its job "a whole lot quicker" if the administration and Clinton would cooperate more than they have so far, Boehner told reporters.
"The administration has made it virtually impossible to get to the facts surrounding Benghazi," Boehner said. "And so when we have the facts, we'll have a report."
Clinton was secretary of state at the time of the attacks and is now the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
The Republican-run House committee has been trying to get her emails related to the 2012 attacks, in which four Americans were killed. Clinton used a private email account as secretary of state and is refusing to give the committee her computer's server.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.