WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton is willing to testify once on Capitol Hill later this month about the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, and her email practices during her tenure as secretary of state, her attorney told lawmakers in a letter Monday.
Lawyer David Kendall said the Democratic presidential candidate would appear for only one session the week of May 18 or later, not twice as requested by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the special panel investigating the September 2012 attacks that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, at the U.S. outpost in Libya.
Gowdy had requested one hearing to focus on Clinton’s use of private emails, and a separate session on Benghazi.
Kendall said that Clinton would answer all lawmakers’ questions during one session and it would not be necessary for her to appear twice.
“Respectfully, there is no basis, logic or precedent for such an unusual request,” Kendall wrote. “The secretary is fully prepared to stay for the duration of the committee’s questions on the day she appears.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the panel, released Kendall’s letter along with a statement saying the lawyer’s offer should more than satisfy the GOP’s demands.
“Chairman Gowdy should take `yes’ for an answer and finally schedule the hearing,” Cummings wrote. “Dragging out this process further into the presidential election season sacrifices any chance that the American people will see it as serious or legitimate.”
Spokesman Jamal Ware said Gowdy will consider her response and issue a statement later “regarding the path forward” for Clinton’s testimony.
Clinton previously testified on Capitol Hill over the attacks in January 2013, when she was still secretary of state. She told lawmakers then that she takes responsibility for missteps by the State Department in the months leading up to the assault. But Clinton insisted that requests for more security at the diplomatic mission in Benghazi didn’t reach her desk, and reminded lawmakers that they have a responsibility to fund security-related budget requests.
Republicans say they have more questions, especially in light of recent revelations that she used a private email account while secretary of state and decided which emails to retain and turn over to the government.
Gowdy’s letter last month seeking two appearances included more than 100 questions he and other lawmakers may pose to Clinton about her email use, including why she considered using a private server and what was done to vet the companies or individuals who set up the server.