The House panel investigating the 2012 terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya, will start the New Year with a pair of high-profile interviews.
The House Select Committee on Benghazi will hold a closed-door session with former CIA Director David Petraeus on Wednesday, followed by a private session with former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Friday, the panel announced late Monday.
The pair was listed in a letter panel chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC) sent Rep. Elijah Cummings (MD), the select committee’s top Democrat, last February listing 20 witnesses he wanted to interview.
“While we are still waiting to receive crucial documents from the State Department and the CIA, and still waiting for important witnesses to be made available, the committee is diligently working to complete its thorough, fact-centered investigation and release a report with recommendations within the next few months,” select committee press secretary Matt Wolking said in a statement.
The panel’s investigation, which sparked months of headlines at the beginning of 2015 after it uncovered Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server while in the Obama administration, has largely faded from the public eye after Clinton appeared before the committee last October.
The former Secretary of State made no major slip-ups during the marathon 11-hour session, nor did the GOP-controlled select committee reveal a “smoking gun” that showed Clinton was negligent before, during or after the attack or attempted to cover up the truth about the siege that left four Americans dead, including the U.S. ambassador.
Clinton’s performance seemingly put the controversy, which threatened to scuttle her presidential bid, behind her and she has largely regained the ground she lost to her Democratic rival, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
But on New Year’s Eve the State Department issued another 5,500 of the 55,000 total pages of Clinton's e-mails in its latest monthly release, thousands shy of the amount ordered by a federal judge. The steady drip will continue as voters in Iowa and New Hampshire prepare to cast the first votes of the 2016 presidential contest.
And the FBI is still in possession of Clinton’s “homebrew” server device for analysis, even though her lawyers claim it has been wiped clean.
Meanwhile, the Benghazi panel itself has come under fire. Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump blasted the work of the committee and Gowdy, after the former federal prosecutor endorsed Sen. Marco Rubio (FL), a GOP rival, for president.
Gowdy “did not win those hearings,” according to Trump.
“It was not good for Republicans and for the country,” he added. “I hope he does a lot better for Marco than he did with the Benghazi hearings.”
Democrats also pounced on Gowdy’s endorsement, charging that it’s further proof of the chairman’s partisan nature, according to Politico. The select committee’s investigation has cost taxpayers roughly $5.6 million and counting, according to panel Democrats.
Last year a GOP spokesperson for the panel signaled its final report wouldn’t be done until sometime in 2016, meaning it will continue to hover over Clinton’s candidacy.
Gowdy himself has said the findings might not be definitive enough for some people.