Just four days before former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to testify on her role in the terror attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Rep. Elijah Cummins, the Benghazi committee’s ranking Democrat, took a shot at the committee’s chairman.
Within hours, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., let loose a return volley that put the Maryland Democrat back in his place.
Cummins has often accused Gowdy of going after Clinton for pure political reasons, and this was no different.
Specifically, he took issue with Gowdy’s statement in an October 7 13-page letter that “received classified information from [Sid] Blumenthal — information she should have known was classified at the time she received it … [and] forwarded that email to a colleague — debunking her claim that she never sent any classified information from her private email address.”
“ … You failed to check your facts before you made” that assertion, he said, and “you owe the Secretary an immediate apology.”
The CIA yesterday informed both the Republican and Democratic staffs of the Select Committee that they do not consider the information you highlighted in your letter to be classified. Specifically, the CIA confirmed that “the State Department consulted with the CIA on this production, the CIA reviewed these documents, and the CIA made no redactions to protect classified information.” …
Unfortunately, the standard operating procedure of this Select Committee has become to put out information publicly that is inaccurate and out of context in order to attack Secretary Clinton for political reasons. These repeated actions bring discredit on this investigation and undermine the integrity of the Select Committee and the House of Representatives.
Gowdy wasn’t about to let Cummins’ claims go unchallenged, and he wasted no time in shooting back with this statement:
Contrary to your assertion, the CIA did not inform the Committee that anything about the facts stated in the October 7 letter “[was] wrong.” As usual, I would ask you to completely and accurately relate the facts rather than attempt to create an impression that is misleading based on an incomplete and selective recitation of the facts. In fact, my understanding is the CIA advised the Committee in a very brief email late Saturday night that it had reviewed the material in question and asked for no material to be redacted…
As such, we will continue to redact certain information to protect sensitive information regardless of how others treat that information. Whether Secretary Clinton received protected information from Sidney Blumenthal or simply recklessly wrong information from Sidney Blumenthal is relevant at some level. What is most important is to protect information that can endanger others. As you will recall we had this same conversation when we received a letter from you we found troubling as it relates to the naming of certain assets. We did the responsible thing which was come to you, alert you to the issue, and allow for that information to be withdrawn and or otherwise not made public…
So, our position is consistent. Sources and methods of intelligence are among the most closely guarded information our government has. We will continue to redact that information and treat it with the highest level of confidentiality and sensitivity, and we would advise you to do the same…
PS: I am envious of your staff’s ability to get information from this administration in less than 45 minutes on a weekend. This is something the majority Members struggle to do on weekdays. Perhaps you would be willing to help us gain access to the information the Committee has been seeking from the administration for over half a year now.
One should never get on Gowdy’s bad side.
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