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Amid GOP Criticism, Gowdy Defends Benghazi Investigation

Gowdy again defended the Benghazi Committee. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy is on the offensive after a series of inartful comments from Republicans has produced a rocky lead-up to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's testimony before his special select committee next week.  

After adopting a "tune it out " media strategy in response to recent questions on the true intent of the Benghazi investigation, Gowdy pivoted Thursday to directly respond to offhand accusations from Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., that Republicans are out to get Clinton. “There are seven members of the Benghazi Committee who are intimately familiar with the work of the committee, the motives behind the work, and the results of that work," Gowdy said. "Congressman Hanna is not one of them."  

Of course, Hanna was just the latest Republican to call the true motive of the Benghazi Committee into question.  

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's clunky comments drawing a causal relationship between the Benghazi Committee and Clinton's sagging poll numbers gave the Democratic frontrunner plenty of material to dismiss the investigation as political and unserious.  

A staffer claiming he was fired because he refused to participate in a partisan witch hunt also didn't help.  

And Hanna telling a local radio station Wednesday that a "big part of this investigation" was designed to go after people, namely Clinton, only added to the political cover.  

Gowdy said he and Hanna had talked informally about the committee, but the two had never discussed the "scope or the approach" of the investigation. Gowdy reported he called Hanna on Thursday and told him the panel had recently received old emails from Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who was killed during the Benghazi attack, and pointed out that Benghazi committee members had not rushed to talk about them or politicize their content.  

“Running investigations in a private, fact-centric way is unquestionably the right way to conduct a serious investigation," Gowdy continued. "The pitfall, of course, is that commentators, and sometimes even Members of your own Conference, offer thoughts on matters on which they are not familiar."  

Gowdy went on to say his team of investigators had worked in "an above-board manner" and that it was "unfortunate when claims are made by those who do not know what the committee has done, why it has done it, or the results of its work."  

Clinton, whose presidential campaign has taken every opportunity it can to publicize the Benghazi questions coming from Republicans, is scheduled to testify before the panel on Oct. 22.  

Emma Dumain contributed to this report.

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