The top-ranking Democrat on the Benghazi committee publicly criticized the chairman of the committee on Oct. 18, saying he advanced a claim about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton which the CIA later proved to be false, according to The Huffington Post.
Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, alleged in an Oct. 7 letter on the committee's website that Clinton had released the name of a CIA source in Libya via her private email server.
Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the committee's ranking member, revealed on Oct. 18 that the CIA had found that the information was not classified.
"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," Cummings wrote in a letter to Gowdy. "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."
Gowdy responded to Cummings on the same day, saying he was dedicated to protecting the source's identity, even if the CIA was not.
The source in question is a former Libyan spy chief and foreign minister who defected to Britain in 2011, according to Politico. It is unclear exactly how much information he was supplying to Western officials at the time, but the former spy chief's role was being discussed publicly at the time.
Gowdy has come under heavy criticism over growing backlash to the Benghazi investigation following comments made by Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California in early October. McCarthy insinuated the investigation was designed to do political damage to Hillary Clinton in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity.
Gowdy says that is not the case and that the recent attacks on the committee have been distressing since he has been trying to conduct an impartial investigation.
“I would say in some ways these have been among the worst weeks of my life,” Gowdy said in an interview with Politico. “Attacks on your character, attacks on your motives, are a thousand times worse than anything you can do to anybody physically — at least it is for me.”