WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats on a House panel investigating the deadly attacks in Benghazi, Libya, called Wednesday for the release of a deposition transcript of a longtime confidant of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The Democrats said the Republican-led panel should release the transcript of Tuesday's closed-door testimony by Clinton friend Sidney Blumenthal, along with emails he sent to Clinton while she served as secretary of state.
In a letter to the panel's chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, Democrats said the transcript of Blumenthal's testimony will provide "important background and context to his emails."
Gowdy said Tuesday he has not decided whether to release the transcript. Blumenthal spent nearly nine hours Tuesday. His interview with the panel was interrupted by lunch and votes on the House floor.
Blumenthal told the committee that he did not write any of the numerous memos he forwarded to Clinton on Libya. Most came from a single source, a former high-ranking CIA official.
Blumenthal declined to name the author of the memos, but congressional officials said they were written by former CIA official Tyler Drumheller. Drumheller, who retired a decade ago, has written critically about the Bush administration's use of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war.
Blumenthal said he passed along the memos and other articles to Clinton as a friend.
Gowdy said Tuesday that Blumenthal was "simply and merely a conduit of someone who may have had business interests in Libya." Blumenthal had "absolutely no idea" if the information included in the memos was credible or not, Gowdy said, calling Clinton's apparent acceptance of the emails questionable.
"We have a CIA. So why would you not rely on your own vetted source intelligence agency?" he asked.
Gowdy also complained about delays in receiving emails between Clinton and Blumenthal, noting that the committee received roughly 60 new emails totaling 120 pages from Blumenthal last week.
Committee Democrats called the delay understandable after Gowdy and majority Republicans expanded the panel's scope from a probe of the September 2012 attacks that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, to a broader examination of U.S. policy toward Libya.