Republicans just couldn’t wait to release former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails but now they’ve established a policy of unilateral release of material and Democrats are pouncing.
After Republican Speaker-in-Hoping Kevin McCarthy admitted that the Benghazi probe, funded by taxpayers, was all about manufacturing something with which to attack Hillary Clinton , Democrats are fighting mad. Democrats announced Monday that they intend to correct the record by releasing all of former State Department Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills’ testimony, which Republicans have cherry picked as they hid it from the public.
Democrats on the Benghazi Select Committee wrote to say, “we plan to begin the process of correcting the public record by releasing the transcript of Ms. Mills’ interview.”
This is the interview Republicans claim is “classified” but Ms. Mills’ counsel said at the beginning of the interview, “I would only ask today that at the end of the day, because this is an unclassified hearing, as was just explained to us, that the transcript be released publicly.”
So this is an interview that the witness herself requested be made in public, but Republicans denied her request. This is SOP with Republicans, who have done the same with other expert witnesses whose testimony also just so happened to debunk Republican conspiracy theories, such as the often debunked “stand-down” order, the debunked claims that Clinton and her staff inappropriately influenced the Accountability Review Board’s (ARB) report, the claims written by Politico, based on “Republican sources”, that Mills “had reviewed and made suggestions for changes” on the report, and the claim that Mills questioned Ambassador Rice’s TV talking points, when in her testimony Democrats say that Mills said she “did not know the information because she did not participate in Ambassador Rice’s preparation for the interviews.”
The Democrats warned Republicans on the Benghazi committee (my bold):
Despite claims that the Committee would be run with integrity, Republicans have engaged in a series of selective leaks of inaccurate and incomplete information in an effort to attack Secretary Clinton with unsubstantiated or previously debunked allegations. The latest example occurred after the Select Committee’s interview of Cheryl Mills, the former State Department Chief of Staff. It has become obvious that the only way to adequately correct the public record is to release the complete transcript of the Committee’s interview with Ms. Mills.
We understand that you have not released any of the Select Committee’s transcribed interviews to date, but we believe it is time to start. We note that you have objected to Democrats releasing Committee documents until the conclusion of the investigation, but you already crossed that bridge yourself when you unilaterally released a subset of Secretary Clinton’s emails on June 22 with no debate or vote by Committee Members.
Therefore, we plan to begin the process of correcting the public record by releasing the transcript of Ms. Mills’ interview. Since you have indicated your unwillingness to do this in a bipartisan manner, we plan to do so ourselves.
Then Democrats took apart Republican claims that her testimony is “classified” (that’s some deep you know what from Republicans who have been leaking classified information from the Benghazi probes as it suited them and sometimes even recklessly and without apparent purpose). “This assertion made little sense since you and other Republicans, as well as your own staff, took numerous steps prior to, during, and after the interview that would have violated security rules had any classified information been discussed.”
They listed a few ways Republicans breached the “classified” status themselves and then added,for good measure, that it was ironic because one of the things Republicans did is exactly what they are accusing Hilary Clinton of, “In addition, your staff emailed a copy of the transcript to our staff on our unclassified email system which, ironically, is precisely what Republicans have accused Secretary Clinton of doing. The difference is that your own staff transmitted Ms. Mills’ interview transcript on an unclassified email system after you declared publicly that you were treating it as classified.”
So why haven’t Republicans released Ms. Mills’ testimony?
It looks like the same reason Republican Darrell Issa (R-CA) refused to let the co-chairs of the Benghazi Review give their testimony in public, as they requested, and tried to force Ambassador Thomas Pickering to testify when the cameras were done rolling. Republicans have kept the testimony a secret so they could cherry pick it for the parts that make Hillary Clinton look suspect. Ms. Mills’ “debunked numerous Republican conspiracy theories”.
Republicans, who have claimed these probes were all about “facts”, chose to bury facts that didn’t fit their narrative… Like you do when you’re really searching for the truth.
During Ms. Mills’ interview, she conducted herself professionally, she answered every question posed to her, and she debunked numerous Republican conspiracy theories that have been made for several years-and that continue to be repeated even today-yet Republicans did not make any of that information public.
Republicans might want to keep this information secret in order to embarrass Hillary Clinton or prevent themselves by being embarrassed by the truth, but guess what? Democrats point out, “According to Executive Order 13526, information may not be classified merely to ‘prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency”-including embarrassment to the Select Committee.'”
Oh, no. Republicans are not allowed to use the Government all Nixon style to abuse and take down an opponent. Go figure.
And here’s yet another part Republicans don’t want anyone to hear. “And she (Hillary Clinton) made herself consistently present to people on her team because she wanted them to know that, as hard as this was, this was something that required us all to bear witness, to learn, and to try to be the very best we could in those moments… Absolutely everything was on the table. And, like I said, obviously, the President made that clear too, and that was important. ”
Democrats mean business and they will deploy in five days, after giving fair warning, “Please notify us within five days if you believe any information in the full transcript should be withheld from the American people.”
Giving the Republicans a bit of their own treatment in return:
Our authority to take this action should be clear since you took similar unilateral action on June 22, 2015, when you publicly released a subset of Secretary Clinton’s emails-without any debate or vote by Committee Members. Therefore, just as you unilaterally released these Committee documents, we plan to release Ms. Mills’ interview transcript.
If Democrats do this right and the media does their job (LOL, just work with me here), the irony will be that Republicans planned to use their cherry-picked information to crush Hillary Clinton, but their unethical and dishonest tactics are going to be revealed to the world in an election year.
Of course, the media rarely finds any drama in repeating ad nauseam real Republican “glitches” and missteps, so this will probably be yet another attempt to set the record straight that is too little, too late. But do stay alert for the first person who tries to say that Democrats releasing ALL of the interview is partisan. How can the truth be partisan?
Yes, this is but a letter from Democrats but they are threatening to release the full transcript, not a cherry picked version of it. Usually the people who are telling the truth will want the public to see the unedited version of the events. So both sides aren’t the same in this case. Both sides are full of politicians who are often dishonest and too often puppets of corporations, but both sides do not need to abuse the people the way Republicans do and that is for a very simple reason.
Republicans can’t run on their policies and they can’t afford to have a dialogue about the issues. So Benghazi and Planned Parenthood bombs are a must.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.