Democrats on the House Select Committee on Benghazi released excerpts of witness interviews on Monday, days ahead of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s scheduled testimony about the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya.
Excerpts from the 54 interview conducted by the Benghazi Committee show there is no evidence that then-Sec. of State Hillary Clinton ordered the military to stand down during the attack, according to Democrats. There is also no evidence that she personally ordered the draw-down of security forces in the months leading up to it or that the State Department engaged in a cover-up of any kind, they say.
“The report concludes that none of the witnesses substantiated repeated claims that Republican Members of Congress and presidential candidates have been making about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the past three years relating to the attacks in Benghazi,” Democrats write in the 124-page report.
Clinton is scheduled to testify in a public hearing in front of the committee on Thursday. She will likely be asked about the State Department’s role in providing security at the consulate. Terrorists stormed the compound, killing Ambassador Chris Stevens and a State Department information officer in the process.
Two CIA contractors were later killed at an annex nearby. The Obama administration maintained for days after the attack that it was spurred by a YouTube video that Muslims found offensive.
Monday’s lengthy report is the culmination of an aggressive Democratic campaign to discredit the Benghazi Committee’s investigation. While Democrats claim that the investigation’s purpose is to hurt Clinton’s White House bid, they have also rallied around the party’s leading White House contender.
They say that Republicans have focused on Clinton’s email scandal and the State Department instead of other agencies involved in defending the consulate before and during the attacks.
In defending the committee’s work, chairman Trey Gowdy has pointed out that none of the previous seven committees that have investigated Benghazi obtained the emails Clinton sent as secretary of state. The committee also obtained Stevens’ emails, some of which show that he requested additional security as soon as he became ambassador in June 2012. None of the previous seven panels have read those emails.
Benghazi Democrats also ding Gowdy on his claim that the committee has interviewed 50 new witnesses. Only 31 have been interviewed, according to the report.
In the report, Benghazi Democrats excerpt interviews with Clinton’s State Department chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, and another top aide, Jake Sullivan. Other excerpted interviews were conducted with State Department diplomats and security agents as well as with employees of other federal agencies.
“This report shows that no witnesses we interviewed substantiated these wild Republican conspiracy theories about Secretary Clinton and Benghazi,” the committee’s leading Democrat, Maryland U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings , said in a statement. “It’s time to bring this taxpayer-funded fishing expedition to an end.”
A spokesman for the Republican side of the committee responded to the report.
“Wait, I thought the Democrats said all had been ‘asked and answered?’” Jamal Ware said in a statement.
“Were they wrong then or are they wrong now? Why is every single bullet point in the Democrats’ press release about Clinton and not a single one about the four people who were killed or about providing better security in the future? This is further proof of the Democrats’ obsession with covering for Hillary Clinton instead of investigating the Benghazi terrorist attacks.”
“As Chairman Gowdy said this weekend, the past 18 months of the investigation conducted by the majority Members has not been about Clinton, it has been about the four brave Americans we lost in Benghazi.”