Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C) leaves a meeting with members of the Iowa State legislature at the Iowa State Capital on April 15, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty

Benghazi panel agrees to let Clinton answer questions

The headline on the New York Times piece yesterday afternoon painted a picture that was a little misleading: “Benghazi Committee Pushes for Hillary Clinton to Testify Again.” Reading this, one might get the impression that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was reluctant to answer questions and needed “pushing” from the Republican-led panel.
Except, pretty much the opposite is true. Clinton offered months ago to testify – in a public hearing for all of the world to see – only to face resistance from the committee’s GOP leaders. Indeed, just this week, Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) was asked by Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren whether Clinton has been “cooperative.” The Republican leader conceded, “Cooperative from the standpoint she has never once evidenced a lack of willingness to come in to talk to us.”
All of which led to yesterday’s announcement that the committee is willing to let Clinton answer questions – again – but the panel now wants her to testify twice. Alex Seitz-Wald reported:
In a letter sent Thursday to Clinton’s lawyer, committee Chair Trey Gowdy asked Clinton to appear before the committee to discuss her controversial use of a private email account during the week of May 18, and then to appear again during the week of June 18 to discuss the Benghazi terror attacks themselves.
Clinton was secretary of state during the September 2012 Benghazi terror attack, which left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens,  and became a major political issue in the 2012 presidential campaign and in the years since.
Gowdy backed down from demands that Clinton’s testimony must be private – the next round of Q&A will be televised, just as the Democrat requested.
The South Carolina Republican, who has a habit of asking Benghazi questions that have already been answered, again insisted yesterday that there are still unanswered questions, even after seven other congressional committees have investigated the 2012 attack in Libya in recent years. He tried to prove his point with a lengthy list.
Though as Philip Bump noted, even this contention was problematic:
In a 10-page letter, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, posed more than 130 new questions that he would like former secretary of state Hillary Clinton to answer. Of that number, eight relate directly to or mention Benghazi.
The Benghazi attack, of course, is the reason Gowdy’s committee exists, though the panel now appears to be moving on to new subjects, like Clinton’s email account.
The degree to which this represents a GOP version of mission creep – or in this case, committee creep? – should become clearer in the coming weeks.