Clinton Spars with Benghazi Committee over Testimony
Policy + Politics

Clinton Spars with Benghazi Committee over Testimony

Over the weekend, the long-awaited news that a date had been set for Hillary Clinton to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi finally broke. A deal had been struck on Friday, a campaign spokesman told CNN. Clinton was set to testify on October 22.

Except, she wasn’t.

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“Secretary Clinton's campaign may want to reach out to her lawyer,” said Jamal Ware, the committee’s communications director, in a press release. According to Ware, the committee staff remained in negotiations with Clinton’s attorney, David Kendall, over the conditions under which his client would testify.

Call it miscommunication or call it gamesmanship, the competing stories about when and how Clinton will appear before the latest legislative body to investigate the terrorist attacks on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, are a symptom of the fraught nature of the Benghazi inquiry.

Originally given a mandate to investigate the attacks, the committee has was then confronted with revelations that Clinton, during her time as secretary of state, used a personal email server rather than the secure State Department email service. The committee and its chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), have argued that because the emails on Clinton’s server might shed light on the events in Benghazi, Clinton’s use of a private email service is within the scope of their jurisdiction.

Clinton has declined to turn over the server, but delivered more than 30,000 emails to the State Department that according to her attorneys were the only work-related or possibly work-related emails on the system.

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Kendall, responding to the Committee on Clinton’s behalf earlier this year, said that she was willing to testify and to answer questions not only about Benghazi but also about her email. However, Clinton agreed to appear only once, rather than twice as had been requested.

On Saturday, though, the Committee quoted part of a letter it received from Kendall that appeared to suggest he was trying to limit Clinton’s testimony to the events in Benghazi. (Although the committee released copies of three Kendall letters, it did not release that particular communication.)

Kendall also urged the committee to stick to the plan to have Clinton testify in October, despite the Committee’s complaint that it has not yet received all of the emails that she provided to the State Department.

Ware suggested that Clinton was attempting to avoid the email question.

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“Her email arrangement clearly falls within the scope of the Select Committee's jurisdiction, which is charged by the House under the Resolution to look at Executive Branch efforts to comply with congressional oversight as well as the administration's response in the aftermath of the tragic attacks in Benghazi,” Ware said.

He also said that the hearing date would be dependent on the committee’s being convinced that the State Department had fully disclosed all the emails Clinton turned over.

“The Committee will not, now or ever, accept artificial limitations on its congressionally-directed jurisdiction or efforts to meet the responsibilities assigned to the Committee by the House of Representatives. Accordingly, once there is an agreement on the date and a better understanding of how, if at all, Secretary Clinton's lawyer's latest writing differs from previous ones, the Committee will announce said hearing date.”