Democrats release Benghazi testimony of top Clinton aide

Posted at 9:57 AM, Oct 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-21 10:57:02-04

WASHINGTON (AP) —” Democrats on the House committee investigating the deadly attacks in Benghazi, Libya, on Wednesday released a full transcript of testimony by a top aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The release comes a day before Clinton — the Democratic front-runner for president — is set to testify at a public hearing. Democrats have promised to release the transcript for more than a week, amid an escalating partisan feud on the 12-member committee.

The 307-page transcript reveals testimony given behind closed doors last month by Cheryl Mills, who was Clinton's chief of staff at the State Department. Democrats have complained about "selective and out-of-context leaks" that they said mischaracterized testimony by Mills and other witnesses.

Democrats said the transcript includes no evidence to support claims by some Republicans who do not serve on the Benghazi panel that Clinton or other top officials ordered the military to "stand down" during the 2012 attacks. The transcript also offers no evidence that Clinton personally denied requests for additional security, Democrats said.

The transcript includes comments by Mills indicating that Clinton was "deeply engaged during and after the attacks and took action to ensure the safety and security of U.S. personnel, even as intelligence assessments of the attacks changed more than once during this period," Democrats said in a statement.

"After multiple selective and out-of-context leaks mischaracterizing Ms. Mills' testimony, Democrats are now correcting the record by releasing the full transcript to the American people," said Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Benghazi panel.

Cummings and other Democrats have complained that Republicans have spent more than $4.5 million of taxpayer dollars on what they describe as a partisan campaign to damage Clinton's bid for president.

The panel's chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, disputes that claim and says the committee has been and remains focused on those killed in Benghazi and on providing a definitive account of the attacks.

A spokesman for Gowdy declined immediate comment on the release of the Mills transcript.