The five U.S. House Democrats on the Benghazi special committee have accused their Republican colleagues of not focusing on the task at hand, but instead putting their efforts into attacking former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who is currently running for the Democratic nomination for president.
"It appears that much of the Select Committee's work has been shelved while Republicans pursue every possible avenue of political attack against Secretary Clinton," a letter sent by the Democrats to Republican committee chairman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina said.
In the Democrats' letter, led by Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, they stated their Republican colleagues originally planned to hold 11 hearings between January and October on a wide range of topics relating to the Benghazi attacks, reports Bloomberg.
Instead, the Democrats claim Republicans “have completely abandoned this plan — holding no hearing at all since January and instead focusing on former Secretary Hillary Clinton.”
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"Amazingly, the last eight press releases on the Select Committee's webpage deal entirely with Secretary Clinton," the letter adds.
The special House committee on the Benghazi attacks is meant to investigate the State Department’s handling of the 2012 terrorist attacks in Libya that claimed the lives of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
"In the entire 14 months since the Select Committee has been in existence, the Select Committee has not conducted a transcribed interview or deposition of even a single Defense Department employee," the Democrats claim. "In the past, Republicans have attempted to blame the Select Committee's glacial pace on Secretary Clinton and the State Department. But it seems difficult to understand how they could be responsible for the Select Committee abandoning every single hearing it had planned to hold since January."
Republicans, on the other hand, claim that Clinton only has herself and the department she ran to blame for the shift in focus of the committee during her presidential campaign, reports Associated Press. Much of the controversy is due to the fact that Clinton used a private email server, rather than a government server, while serving as Secretary of State, and deleted thousands of emails she claimed were personal and did not involve work.
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"The reason we are having a conversation about her email arrangement is because of her unusual email arrangement with herself, and not because of anything we've done on the Benghazi committee," Gowdy said in an interview, according to the Associated Press.
Cummings believes the panel has assumed a new purpose: "Derail Hillary Clinton's presidential efforts by any means necessary."
Cummings wants to see Clinton testify before the committee as soon as possible. To date, no such session is scheduled.
"To whatever degree this was ever about Benghazi, those days are gone," Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California said.
The findings from the committee are expected to be released next year, Republicans said, mere months before the 2016 presidential election.