Hillary Clinton’s appearance before the House panel investigating the 2012 terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya, is still more than two months away, but comments this weekend showed both she and the GOP lawmaker heading the inquiry are gearing up for the big day.
In July, the former secretary of state agreed, after months of wrangling, to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Oct. 22. The one-time appearance will examine Clinton’s actions before, during and after the deadly 2012 attack that killed four Americans, as well as her use of a private email server, the existence of which the 12-member House panel uncovered earlier this year.
The controversy surrounding Clinton’s emails has only intensified since her appearance was announced, with charges that some messages contained “top secret” classified information. Last week, Clinton turned over the email server — which her attorney says has been wiped clean of data — to the Justice Department for forensic analysis.
But if the 2016 Democratic frontrunner is worried about the ongoing scandal, she sure didn’t show it Friday night at the annual Iowa Democratic Wing Ding.
“By the way, you may have seen that I have recently launched a Snapchat account,” she said, referring to the social media service known for messages that disappear almost instantly.
“I love it — those messages disappear all by themselves,” Clinton joked.
Clinton then went on to dismiss the latest investigation into Benghazi and her email server as politically motivated. “I won't get down in the mud with them,” she said. “I won't play politics with national security or dishonor the memory of those who we lost. I won't pretend that this is anything other than what it is, the same old partisan games we've seen so many times before.”
Meanwhile, Benghazi chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC) also seems anxious for Clinton’s testimony to finally happen.
“If she is going to insist on only coming once, I’m going to insist that all questions are asked and answered, so she’s going to be there for a while,” he said during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
Gowdy called Clinton’s email arrangement “one of the most reckless decisions that have been made in public service in a long time” and questioned her explanation that she user a private account for convenience.
“The notion she did this for convenience raises the question: ‘Convenient for who?’” the former federal prosecutor asked.
“It may have been convenient for her, but it certainly wasn’t convenient for anyone else,” he added. “It sure as hell hasn’t been convenient for the American people and the intelligence community.”
Gowdy, who has repeatedly insisted the select committee’s roughly 18-month long probe is nonpartisan, dipped his toe in the 2016 waters, addressing the concerns around Clinton’s poll numbers that have led to speculation that Vice President Joe Biden will announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination.
“I get that she's frustrated. Her poll numbers are tanking. Folks who never thought about getting in the race are getting in the race,” he said. “But she need not blame House Republicans for having her own personal server for exclusively using” private email.
“I get that she's frustrated. Sometimes when people are frustrated, they look in the mirror and they engage in a little bit of self-reflection” Gowdy later added. “And sometimes they lash out and blame nonexistent right-wing conspiracy. Apparently, she's chosen to do the latter.”
Gowdy acknowledged, though, that his investigation could have an effect on the 2016 campaign for the White House. “We are going to follow the facts wherever they go,” he said, “and if that impacts people’s perception of her fitness to be commander and chief, so be it.”