Democrats on Benghazi panel release testimony from top Clinton aide

Democrats on the House’s special Benghazi committee released some details Monday of a closed-door interview with a top State Department aide to Hillary Clinton, saying they wanted to “correct the public record” because Republicans have leaked inaccuracies about the testimony.

The partial transcript from former agency Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills follows House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy last week seeming to acknowledge that Republican leaders of the GOP-led chamber created the House Select Committee on Benghazi to squash former Secretary of State Clinton’s 2016 White House bid.

"Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?” said McCarthy, considered the frontrunner for the speakership after Ohio Rep. John Boehner resigned last month from the post. “But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping."

The California Democrat has since tried to clarify his remarks, but Democrats have seized upon them as evidence of a politically motivated -- and taxpayer funded -- attack on the Democratic frontrunner.

House Republican leaders said they formed the committed to learn more about the Sept. 11, 2012, terror attacks on a U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya, in which U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed. Clinton was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.

Her controversial use of a private server and emails accounts for official business while serving as the country’s top diplomat have become part of the investigation. Clinton is scheduled to testify before the committee Oct. 22.

In a letter sent to committee Chairman South Carolina GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy, the five committee Democrats describe McCarthy’s remarks as proof of “an unethical abuse of millions of taxpayer dollars and a crass assault on the memories of the four Americans who were killed.”

The members, led by Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the committee, argued that congressional Republicans have engaged in a series of inaccurate leaks.

They said that releasing the transcript is "the only way to adequately correct the public record.”

They also plan to release the full transcript in five days -- to give Gowdy time to identify information he thinks should be redacted.

The Democrats said Mills refuted several GOP allegations about the Benghazi attacks.

In the transcripts released Monday, Mills rejected a claim that Clinton issued a "stand down" order blocking U.S. troops from rescuing those trapped at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. The order has been widely debunked.

Clinton "said we need to be taking whatever steps we can, to do whatever we can to secure our people," Mills said, according to the partial transcript.

Mills also said Clinton was "very concerned" on the night of the attacks and "worried about our team on the ground in Benghazi" and State Department personnel throughout Libya.

Clinton was especially concerned about Stevens, a friend and "someone she had lot of confidence and respect for," Mill said, according to the partial transcript.

Clinton on Monday also addressed McCarthy's remarks and accused Republicans of exploiting the deaths of Americans.

"This committee was set up, as they have admitted, for the purpose of making a partisan, political issue out of the deaths of four Americans," Clinton said in an interview before a town hall appearance in New Hampshire.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.