GOP: Still no deal on Clinton testimony to Benghazi panel

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans on the House committee investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, said Tuesday that there is no agreement with Hillary Rodham Clinton over her possible appearance before the panel, despite the State Department’s pledge to produce 5,000 new pages of documents.

A spokesman for Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said “nothing has changed” since Gowdy balked Saturday at an announcement by Clinton’s presidential campaign that she would testify Oct. 22. Gowdy chairs the special committee, which is investigating the September 2012 attacks that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

Clinton’s campaign and House Republicans have sparred for months over her possible testimony and her refusal to turn over a private email server she used as secretary of state.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Tuesday that Clinton should “come clean” and turn the server over to the State Department’s inspector general.

Boehner also disputed Clinton’s claim that she did not send or receive classified emails on her private account while serving as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. Federal investigators said last week they have alerted the Justice Department to a potential compromise of classified information arising from Clinton’s private email server.

A memo signed by the inspector general of the intelligence community said the IG’s office had identified “potentially hundreds of classified emails” among the 30,000 that Clinton had provided to the State Department and that are now being processed for public release. None of the emails was marked as classified at the time they were sent or received, but some should have been handled as such and sent on a secure computer network, according to a letter to congressional oversight committees from I. Charles McCullough III, the inspector general for a collection of executive branch agencies that work on intelligence.

McCullough’s office found four emails containing classified information in a limited sample of 40 emails.

“Let’s not be fooled here,” Boehner said Tuesday. “Secretary Clinton is a former senator, a former secretary of state. She knows exactly how classifying material works.”

Besides Clinton’s testimony, the Benghazi panel also has been sparring with the State Department over emails and other documents handled by Clinton’s top aides in the months leading up to Benghazi attacks. Gowdy had scheduled a closed-door meeting Wednesday with Jonathan Finer, chief of staff to Secretary of State John Kerry, to talk about the documents and the pace of the State Department’s production of them.

Gowdy postponed the hearing late Monday after the department pledged to produce 5,000 new pages of documents by Tuesday.

Democrats had complained that a potentially lengthy meeting with the Benghazi panel would have interfered with Finer’s efforts to help Kerry persuade members of Congress to support a deal blocking Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Kerry and other officials testified about the Iran deal Tuesday before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Gowdy said in a statement he had no interest in forcing Finer to testify.

“This was never about a hearing, but about getting the documents,” he said.

If the State Department does not fulfill its promise to produce more emails, the panel will move forward with a compliance hearing with Finer or other officials, Gowdy said.

Meanwhile, the State Department is set to release another group of Clinton emails later this week as part of a court mandate that the agency release monthly batches of Clinton’s private correspondence from her time as secretary of state.