Sensing an Advantage, Clinton Skewers GOP on Benghazi Probe
Policy + Politics

Sensing an Advantage, Clinton Skewers GOP on Benghazi Probe

REUTERS/Brian C. Frank

Hillary Clinton is keeping up the pressure on Republicans after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) implied the Benghazi enquiry is politically motivated.

During a Monday interview with “The Today Show,” Clinton used a question -- about if she would have investigated former Vice President Dick Cheney if he had used a private email account -- to lambaste the GOP.

Related: Clinton Finally Catches a Break on Benghazi — from the Mis-speaker of the House

“I would never have done that,” Clinton began.

“Look at the situation they chose to exploit to go after me for political reasons, the death of four Americans in Benghazi. I knew the ambassador [Christopher Stevens]. I identified him. I asked him to go there. I asked the president to nominate him,” she continued, her voice rising.

“There have been seven investigations, led mostly by Republicans in the Congress,” Clinton said, becoming visibly angry. “They were nonpartisan and they reached conclusions that, first of all, I and nobody did anything wrong, but there were changes we could make.

“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. I would never have done that. If I were president and there were Republicans or Democrats thinking about that, I would have done everything to shut it down.”

Related: On Benghazi and Emails, Clinton and House GOP Are Spoiling For a Fight

The partisan sniping comes less than three weeks before Clinton herself will make her highly anticipated appearance before the House Select Committee on Benghazi.

Democrats feel they may have gained the upper hand after last week when McCarthy, the favorite to succeed resigning Speaker John Boehner, seemingly admitted that the Republicans the panel to damage Clinton’s presidential campaign.

“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee. A select committee. What are her numbers today?” McCarthy said last week.

The gaffe set off a firestorm of criticism from Democrats, and even some Republicans who think it indicates McCarthy would make a poor messenger for their party.

Related: Clinton Confronts Benghazi Controversy Ahead of Crucial Testimony

Perhaps emboldened by Clinton’s fiery response, Democrats serving on the Benghazi panel said they will release the closed-door interview that Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department, gave the 12-member selection committee last month.

In a letter to chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC), the panel’s five Democrats charged the GOP with selectively leaking portions of Mill’s marathon, nine-hour testimony to the media. They said they will unilaterally release the entire transcript and are giving Republicans, along with the State Department and Mills’ attorneys, five days to identify anything that they think shouldn’t be shared with the public.

Democrats harkened back to McCarthy’s comments in their letter.

“Obviously, this is an unethical abuse of millions of taxpayer dollars and a crass assault on the memories of the four American who were killed in Benghazi. Although some Republicans attempted to explain away Rep. McCarthy’s admission, it reflected exactly what has been going on within the Select Committee for the past year-and-a-half.”

Politics aside, Clinton vowed to still testify before the select committee later this month.

"Well, I have to say, that now that they've admitted that it's a political, partisan committee for the sole purpose of going after me, not trying to make our diplomats who serve in dangerous areas safer, that's up to the Congress. If they're going to have it still running, I'll be there," she said.

"And I'm looking forward to answering questions about real things when I'm there. And I'm looking forward to having a chance to explain everything we've done, everything I've asked to happen, but it's not, it's not appropriate what they've done, from, obviously, their own admission,” Clinton added.