Hillary Clinton will publicly testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Oct. 22, her spokesman said on Saturday.
Clinton was invited to appear before the committee investigating the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack earlier this week, Nick Merrill told CNN, and the former secretary of state and 2016 presidential candidate accepted that invitation on Friday.
Merrill said Clinton was “pleased” to receive the invitation to a public hearing from committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy.
The agreement comes after a protracted back and forth between the Republican-controlled committee and Clinton’s allies on Capitol Hill and in Washington. Republicans contend that the committee is solely interested in looking into the terrorist attack that killed four Americans — including Ambassador Christopher J. Stevens — while Clinton was secretary of state. Clinton’s supporters argue that Gowdy’s committee has become nothing more than a political arm of the Republican Party, looking to score points against Clinton ahead of the 2016 presidential campaign.
Clinton agreed to testify before the committee in May. Gowdy, however, rejected that offer and asked the secretary to appear twice — once on her exclusive use of a private email server while at State and another in regard to the Benghazi attack.
Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall, who has spearheaded Clinton’s communication with the committee, said the former first lady would only testify once on both topics and offered to do it during the week of May 18 or later.
The date came and went, however, with no testimony.
When it became clear Clinton would have to testify before the committee, her allies and campaign aides had hoped that testimony would happen earlier rather than later in the hopes of not allowing Gowdy to drag the testimony into the heat of the 2016 contest. Clinton’s aides, however, have told reporters that they are confident the former senator would be able to hold her own in front of the committee.
The top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, accused Gowdy last week of overstepping the bounds of his committee.
“It appears that much of the Select Committee’s work has been shelved while Republicans pursue every possible avenue of political attack against Secretary Clinton,” Cummings said in a letter to Gowdy. “These actions by the Select Committee — which lack any legitimate basis — serve only to delay its work further into the election season and subject it to increasingly widespread criticism for its highly partisan actions.”
Gowdy has maintained, however, that he is only interested in getting to the bottom of the Benghazi attack and Republicans have complimented him for leaving politics out of it.
Clinton’s email gained renewed focus on Friday after the inspector general for the intelligence community has informed members of Congress that some material Hillary Clinton emailed from her private server contained classified information, but it was not identified that way when they were sent. Because it was not identified, it is unclear whether Clinton realized she was potentially compromising classified information.
The story emboldened Republicans on Friday to call for Clinton to turn over the private email server she used as secretary of state.
“The number of questions surrounding Secretary Clinton’s unusual email arrangement continues to grow,” Gowdy said in a statement on Friday. “The best — the only way — to resolve these important factual questions is for her to turn over her server to the proper authorities for independent forensic evaluation.”
Clinton turned over 55,000 pages of emails to the State Department earlier this year and the Benghazi committee is in the process of going through those messages.