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Cummings, Gowdy Battle Over Releasing Sidney Blumenthal Testimony

Thursday at the hearing of the the House Select Committee on Benghazi, chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and ranking Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) got into a heated debate over releasing the testimony of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s most prolific email confidant Sidney Blumenthal.

Cummings  said, “Mr. Chairman, you have made several inaccurate statements over the past month, as you have tried to defend against multiple Republican admissions that the select committee has been wasting millions of tax dollars to damage Secretary Clinton’s bid for president. On Sunday, you made another inaccurate statement during your appearance on “Face the Nation” and it’s being taken up here and this is the relevance. Here’s what you said and I quote, ‘there are other folks who may have equities in her e-mails and there may be other entities who are evaluating her e-mails, but my interest, my interest in them is solely making sure that I get everything I’m entitled to so that I can do my job. The rest of it, classification, Clinton Foundation, you name it, I have zero interest in it, which is why you haven’t seen me send a subpoena related to it, will interview a single person other than Bryan Pagliano because I need to know that the record is complete. I’m going back to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.’ I’m waiting on you. I have been very patient… You issued a subpoena to Sidney Blumenthal on May 19, 2015, compelling him to appear for a deposition on June 16, 2015. You issued this subpoena unilaterally without giving the select committee members the opportunity to debate or vote on it. You sent two armed marshals to send the subpoena on Mr. Blumenthal’s wife without ever having requested him to participate voluntarily which he would have done. Then you personally attended Mr. Blumenthal’s deposition. You personally asked him about the Clinton Foundation and you personally directed your staff to ask questions about Clinton Foundation which they did more than 50 times. Now, these facts directly contradict the statements you made on national television.”

Gowdy interjected, “No, sir, with all due respect, they do not. We just heard e-mail after e-mail after e-mail Libya and Benghazi that Sidney Blumenthal sent to the secretary of state. I don’t care if he sent it by morse code, carrier pigeon, smoke signals. the fact that he happened to send it by e-mail is irrelevant. What is relevant is that he was sending information to the secretary of state. That is what’s relevant. With respect to the subpoena, if he had bothered to answer the telephone calls of the committee he wouldn’t have needed a subpoena.”

An angry Cummings said, “I move that we put into the record the entire transcript of Sidney Blumenthal. We are going to release the e-mails, let’s do the transcript. So that way the world can see it.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said, “I second that motion.”

Cumming got emotional as he said, “Mr. Chairman, I consulted with the parliamentarian. they inform me we have a right to recorded vote on that motion. You asked for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. that’s what we want. let the world see it.”

Gowdy shot back, “Why is it that you only want Mr. Blumenthal’s transcript released? The survivors, even their names? You want that? You want that released? Let me tell you something, the only one you have asked for is Sidney Blumenthal. That’s the only one you asked for and that of Miss Mills.”

Cumming continued, “You said from the beginning we want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Why don’t we just put the entire transcript out there and let the world see it? What do you have to hide?”

Schiff chimed in “These are the only e-mails you have released. In fairness to Mr. Blumenthal and the American people, in interest of a complete record, if you are going to release the e-mails, release the transcript where he has a chance to give the context of those e-mails.”

Gowdy countered, “You keep referring to Blumenthal emails. I would hasten to remind both of you, the only reason we have Blumenthal e-mails is because those are the secretary of state’s emails. They’re not Blumenthal’s e-mails. She wanted all of her e-mails released she has been saying since March. I want the entire world to see my e-mails. well, Sidney Blumenthal’s e-mails are part of that. Here’s what I’ll do. I will be happy to talk to the parliamentaryian because the parliamentaryian told me your motion would actually not be in order for a hearing. but at the latest, we will take a vote.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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