The GOP-led House Benghazi Committee's interest in longtime Clinton ally Sidney Blumenthal is intensifying amid questions surrounding his communications about Libya with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of State.
The New York Times reported Monday on messages that Blumenthal—who was an aide in Bill Clinton's White House—sent to Hillary Clinton about Libya that she circulated to senior aides. The State Department previously provided the committee with Blumenthal's correspondence, but a committee source said the panel was not the source of the leak and that there were differences in the redactions between the emails the committee has and the New York Times' copies.
Committee chairman Trey Gowdy—who had said he hoped to talk to Blumenthal—plans to subpoena the former reporter and Clinton staffer for a private transcribed interview, the panel source confirmed.
The Times story notes that Blumenthal was sending Hillary Clinton intelligence information on Libya, which officials found of questionable reliability, while also working "on and off" as a consultant to the pro-Clinton groups Media Matters and American Bridge.
But the story also describes Blumenthal's business work, noting information on Libya he provided apparently came from business associates he advised that sought—unsuccessfully—to win contracts from Libya's transitional government.
From the Times:
The projects—creating floating hospitals to treat Libya's war wounded and temporary housing for displaced people, and building schools—would have required State Department permits, but foundered before the business partners could seek official approval.
It is not clear whether Mrs. Clinton or the State Department knew of Mr. Blumenthal's interest in pursuing business in Libya; a State Department spokesman declined to say.
A committee source said the panel wants to better understand Blumenthal's business arrangements and what actions State officials may have taken in response to his messages.
Blumenthal has been on Gowdy's radar for awhile. The lawmaker told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in mid-April that Blumenthal was among the people close to Clinton he wanted to speak with.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the Benghazi panel, criticized Gowdy.
"The fact is that we have had these exact emails for three months, and the latest abuses by the Committee are just one more example of a partisan, taxpayer-funded attack against Secretary Clinton and her bid for president," he said.
It remains unclear when Clinton herself will appear at a committee hearing. Gowdy said last week that he is delaying her testimony until he receives more documents from the State Department.
This article has been updated.
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