WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican-led committee investigating the 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya, and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s role, is signaling that its final report could slip to just months before the presidential election if the Obama administration delays producing documents and witnesses.
A spokesman for Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, chairman of the Benghazi panel, said Wednesday that Gowdy still hopes to complete the committee’s work by the end of this year, but said factors “we don’t control” could delay the report, including a lack of responsiveness by the administration.
Gowdy “wants this done by the end of the year,” spokesman Jamal Ware said, but factors including witness availability, compliance with document requests and security clearances “could continue to impact the timing of the inquiry’s conclusion.”
A lawyer for Clinton, meanwhile, said Wednesday that Clinton is prepared to publicly answer questions regarding the Benghazi attacks and her email use as soon as possible.
“There is no reason to delay her appearance or to have her testify in a private interview,” lawyer David Kendall said in a letter to Gowdy. Gowdy has previously said he wants to interview Clinton twice — once in private and once at a public hearing.
Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta accused Republicans on the panel of playing politics.
“Sadly, Republicans are determined to continue to exploit this tragedy in an effort to try and hurt her campaign,” Podesta said in a statement.
The back and forth between the GOP panel and Clinton’s lawyer came as House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Wednesday the administration is not cooperating with the Benghazi panel, making it difficult for the committee to gather all the facts.
The House panel could do its job “a whole lot quicker” if the administration and Clinton would cooperate more than they have so far, Boehner told reporters.
“The administration has made it virtually impossible to get to the facts surrounding Benghazi,” Boehner said. “And so when we have the facts, we’ll have a report.”
Clinton was secretary of state at the time of the attacks and is now the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
The Republican-run House committee has been trying to get her emails related to the attacks, in which four Americans were killed. Clinton used a private email account as secretary of state and is refusing to give the committee her computer’s server.
Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the senior Democrat on the Benghazi panel, said the GOP-led committee has strayed far from its initial goal of investigating the Benghazi attacks.
“With the Republicans’ obsessive focus on Hillary Clinton, and their now stated intention to drag out this political charade until just months before the 2016 election, the select committee no longer bears any resemblance to its original purpose,” Cummings said in a statement. “At the chairman’s stated pace, this investigation is on track to last longer than the investigations of Iran-Contra, the Kennedy assassination, Watergate and 9/11, and it will squander more than $6 million in taxpayer funds in the process.”