Cummings Responds to Decision to Keep Blumenthal Testimony Secret
WASHINGTON— Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, issued the following statement in response to Chairman Gowdy’s release of Sidney Blumenthal’s emails—the first public release of any documents obtained by the Committee—while continuing to withhold Mr. Blumenthal’s deposition transcript from the American people:
“Before today, Chairman Gowdy had not officially released a single email from a single witness in this entire investigation, which has lasted more than a year. Now, he has apparently decided that this one witness is so critical that his emails—and his alone—must be released. Yet the Chairman refuses to release Mr. Blumenthal’s deposition transcript, which includes his responses to hundreds of questions posed by Republicans about these very same emails and puts them in proper context. By the Chairman’s own admission, these emails have absolutely nothing to do with the attacks in Benghazi, and their selective release demonstrates the Select Committee’s singular focus on attacking Hillary Clinton and her bid for president.”
Chairman Gowdy’s letter to Ranking Member Cummings concedes: “The Committee never expected Witness Blumenthal to be able to answer questions about the attacks in Benghazi.”
His letter also states that “these emails released today were not part of either the Department of State’s public release or their private production to our Committee.”
In fact, the emails released today include many that were provided to the Select Committee by the State Department four months ago.
Mr. Blumethal’s deposition transcript has been ready for release since last week.
Mr. Blumenthal’s counsel has also called for the release of his full transcript to combat multiple inaccurate leaks that he described as “creating an incomplete and unfair narrative about the deposition, Mr. Blumenthal’s knowledge about Libya, and the tragedy occurred in Benghazi.”
For example, Mr. Blumenthal’s deposition transcript explains – in his words – why the emails to Secretary Clinton were, in fact, unsolicited, as Secretary Clinton has described.
Chairman Gowdy’s letter also mischaracterizes the emails that he released today in that he states that they were not provided to the Committee by the State Department. His letter states: “Curiously, these emails released today were not part of either the Department of State’s public release or their private production to our Committee.” However, the emails released as part of his press release include many duplicative emails that were provided to the Select Committee by the State Department four months ago.
Based on the House Rules, Democrats do not have the authority to release the deposition transcript without the consent of Chairman Gowdy.
Republican Deposition Questions—By The Numbers
The transcript of Blumenthal’s deposition includes hundreds of questions posed by Republicans during the day-long session, including the following:
- Blumenthal’s relationship/communications with the Clintons—more than 160
- Benghazi attacks – less than 20
- The Clinton Foundation—more than 50
- Security in Benghazi—4
- Blumenthal’s alleged business activities in Libya—more than 270
- The U.S. presence in Benghazi—0
- David Brock, Media Matters, and affiliated entities—more than 45
- Ambassador Stevens and other U.S. personnel in Benghazi—0
Updated: Today, Mr. Blumenthal's counsel sent a letter to the Select Committee urging Chairman Gowdy to release the deposition transcript immediately stating: “Given the unprecedented nature of the document release, it is even more imperative that the Committee release the full transcript of Mr. Blumenthal’s deposition along with his emails. As I stated in my letter to you on June 19, there have already been a number of leaks from staff and members of the Committee that mischaracterized Mr. Blumenthal’s testimony. Even in your June 22 letter you state that Mr. Blumenthal was “tasked with placing articles about Benghazi” when he testified he was not tasked to do so. By releasing the emails without the transcript, I am concerned that the unfair mischaracterizations will only continue and perhaps get worse.”