Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, hit back Sunday at a former committee staffer who said he was fired for not cooperating with the panel’s focus on former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s actions in response to the 2012 terrorist attack.
“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,” the South Carolina Republican said in a written statement. “He also has not produced documentary proof that in the time before his termination he was directed to focus on Clinton.” Maj. Bradley F. Podliska told CNN on Sunday morning “this has become a partisan investigation” after a Saturday New York Times report surfaced detailing Podliska’s complaints. The major in the Air Force Reserve said he was terminated this summer for resisting requests to solely focus on the Democratic presidential candidate. The panel was authorized to conduct an investigation into the events, response, policies and decisions surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.
“I was fired for trying to conduct an objective, nonpartisan, thorough investigation,” Podliska told CNN. Later in the interview he noted he is a Republican and plans to vote for a Republican in the 2016 presidential election.
Podliska also said he will be filing a lawsuit against the committee for dismissing him due also in part to the time commitment of his Air Force Reserve work, which Gowdy also addressed.
“This staffer’s reserve duty was approved both times it was requested,” Gowdy said, also stating the reserve time commitment was what Podliska “specifically” claimed as the cause for his unjust termination in a September mediation with his former employers. Gowdy's statement refers to one cause of Podliska's termination as "deficient performance."
Gowdy added that he didn’t have direct contact with Podliska during his work on the panel as an investigator. “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. I am equally confident his supervisor, [ex-Lt. Gen. Dana Chipman], did not direct him to focus on Clinton,” the statement read.
Resolution to Dissolve Benghazi Committee Rejected
Podliska’s assertions come after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., made comments in a recent television interview that Democrats on Capitol Hill say confirm that the Benghazi committee’s focus is political in nature.
“Everyone thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping,” McCarthy told Fox News earlier this month while he was still running for speaker of the House -- a role he said Thursday he doesn’t want anymore.
McCarthy’s office later insisted the investigations into Clinton “have nothing to do with politics.”
“These are extremely serious whistleblower charges by one of Chairman Gowdy’s own handpicked investigators … and they show — from the inside — that Kevin McCarthy’s stark admission was true,” said Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, ranking Democrat on the Select Committee on Benghazi, in a statement Saturday.
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