Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) is fighting back against a former staffer’s assertions that the investigation into the terrorist attack is a political witch hunt, saying he “has now run to the press” after demanding money.
Maj. Bradley Podliska, an intelligence officer in the Air Force Reserve, was fired after 10 months of investigative work for the committee.
Podliska told CNN, “This has become a partisan investigation. I do know the reason for the hyper-focus on Hillary Clinton.”
In the interview with Jake Tapper aired Sunday, Podliska said he “honestly” does not “believe this investigation was set up to go after Hillary. I think it shifted that way.”
He claims that supervisors at the committee were upset when he had to take time off for reserve duty, and told CNN “it’s not possible” that the outcome of the investigation will be fair.
“The victims’ families are not going to get the truth. And that’s the most unfortunate thing about this. And I know this, because the nine months of research I had done is now lost. I have no idea where it is,” Podliska said. “And I know that I could give those victims’ families an explanation, a pretty thorough explanation, of why they were told that this attack was due to a video.”
Gowdy noted in a statement soon after the segment aired that “one month ago, this staffer had a chance to bare his soul, and raise his claim this Committee was focused on Secretary Clinton in a legal document, not an interview, and he did not do it.”
“Nor did he mention Secretary Clinton at any time during his counseling for deficient performance, when he was terminated, or via his first lawyer who withdrew from representing him. In fact, throughout the pendency of an ongoing legal mediation, which is set to conclude October 13, this staffer has not mentioned Secretary Clinton,” Gowdy said. “But as this process prepares to wrap, he has demanded money from the Committee, the Committee has refused to pay him, and he has now run to the press with his new salacious allegations about Secretary Clinton.”
“To wit, 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. He also has not produced documentary proof that in the time before his termination he was directed to focus on Clinton. The record makes it clear not only did he mishandle classified information, 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.”
Gowdy said he had not worked personally with Podliska and can’t remember ever speaking with him.
He did note, though, that “when this staffer requested interns do a project that focused on Clinton and the National Security Council, he was informed by the Committee’s deputy staff director his project was ‘not approved.’”
“This individual was hired as a former intelligence staffer to focus on intelligence, not the politics of White House talking points,” the chairman stressed.
Gowdy added that both of the times Podliska requested time off for reserve duty he received approval.
Out of more than 50,000 pages of documents received by the committee, he said, only about 5 percent are Clinton’s “self-selected email records.”
“I cannot say it any plainer than stating the facts, the Benghazi Committee is not focused on Secretary Clinton, and to the extent we have given any attention to Clinton, it is because she was Secretary of State at all relevant times covered by this Committee’s jurisdiction,” Gowdy said.
“Had CNN contacted the Committee regarding its interview with this staffer before it rushed to air his sensationalistic and fabulist claims, it could have fully questioned him about his unsubstantiated claims. But that is the difference between journalism as practiced by CNN, and the fact-centric investigation being conducted by this Committee.”