Has the Benghazi Committee Reached a Turning Point? Cont'd

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Remember Bradley Podliska? Probably not. He’s the Air Force Reserve member, lifelong Republican, and former intelligence analyst who filed a lawsuit in October alleging that he'd been fired from the House committee investigating the Benghazi attacks after objecting to what he characterized as a political turn in the work. Podliska claimed that the committee had become a witch hunt against Clinton. The charge came shortly after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy suggested in a TV interview that the point of the committee was to harm Clinton politically.

A couple weeks later, Clinton testified before the panel, in a widely lauded performance. Combined, it all took the wind out the story’s sails.

But now comes a twist: Politico reports this week that Podliska has dropped any claims about Clinton from his suit. Now he just says he was fired because he had to go overseas for weeks for his Air Force Reserve job, which committee staffers also dispute. Why’d he drop it? His lawyers haven’t said. Politico spoke with an attorney who speculated that it might be a way to get around the speech and debate clause, which could grant staff immunity in this case—although that’s hardly a new provision.

That’s a big change. But what difference, at this point, does it make? It probably comes too late to change most minds about Benghazi. The accusation came at a perfect moment to help Democrats seeking to discredit the investigation. Now, after Clinton’s testimony, and with the House committee not having turned up much so far, hardly anyone is paying attention.