The Republican-led House committee to investigate the 2012 Benghazi attacks disproportionately targets former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a fired staffer says, an accusation that the committee itself vehemently denies.
Describing it as a “partisan investigation,” Bradley Podliska, a major in the Air Force Reserve, tells CNN that the House Select Committee on Benghazi has directed its focus and resources to primarily discrediting Clinton and her tenure on the cabinet, neglecting its obligation to inquire into the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi with a thorough and holistic lens.
"I knew that we needed to get to the truth to the victims' families. And the victims' families, they deserve the truth – whether or not Hillary Clinton was involved, whether or not other individuals were involved," Podliska says on CNN’s "State of the Union" Sunday. "The victims' families are not going to get the truth and that's the most unfortunate thing about this."
The former investigator, currently on active duty in Germany, was fired 10 months after joining the committee, which has spent $4.6 million on the investigation so far. Podliska is now preparing to sue the select committee, alleging that he was unjustly fired for his efforts to push for a comprehensive investigation, opposing the biased probe into Clinton. The partisan efforts, he explains, intensified after news broke that Clinton was using her private email server instead of the government-issued one.
"Hillary Clinton has a lot of explaining to do. We, however, did not need to shift resources to hyper focus on Hillary Clinton. We didn't need to de-emphasize and in some cases drop the investigation on different agencies, different organizations and different individuals," Podliska told CNN. "There's wrongdoing here and I think it needs to stop."
Podliska, a longtime Republican, says he was also fired for taking leave from the committee for active duty in the military, which would violate the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, The New York Times reports.
In a statement Sunday, chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, denied all of Podliska’s allegations on behalf of the committee. He said Podliska never acknowledged his concern over Clinton or partisan opportunism when he was dismissed this summer.
"Because I do not know him, and cannot recall ever speaking to him, I can say for certain he was never instructed by me to focus on Clinton, nor would he be a credible person to speak on my behalf," Gowdy says in the statement.
Gowdy says Podliska had actually been the one eager to scrutinize Clinton.
“Until his Friday conversations with media, this staffer has never mentioned Secretary Clinton as a cause of his termination, and he did not cite Clinton’s name in a legally mandated mediation,” Gowdy continues. “The record makes it clear he himself was focused on Clinton improperly and was instructed to stop, and that issues with his conduct were noted on the record as far back as April.”
The Washington Post reports that Podliska had delegated to interns a PowerPoint assignment that looked into Clinton’s location and initial responses to the attacks that left four dead.
Democrats say Podliska’s accusations attest to what they have long suspected – that the committee’s Republicans do sustain a partiality against Clinton in their analysis of Benghazi.
"It’s been clear that Secretary Clinton has been the true target of this investigation, and the Republican whistleblower who has come forward only provides further evidence of what has been long evident," Rep. Adam Schiff of California, a senior Democrat on the Benghazi panel, said Saturday in a statement. "It’s time to shut down the Benghazi Select Committee."
Clinton herself will testify before the committee for the first time on Oct. 22.