Democrats on the House committee investigating the deadly attacks in Benghazi, Libya, on Wednesday released a full transcript of testimony by a top aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The release comes a day before Clinton — the Democratic front-runner for president — is set to testify at a public hearing. Democrats had promised to release the transcript for more than a week, amid an escalating partisan feud on the 12-member committee.
The 307-page transcript reveals testimony given behind closed doors last month by Cheryl Mills, who was Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department. Democrats have complained about "selective and out-of-context leaks" that they said mischaracterized testimony by Mills and other witnesses.
Democrats said the transcript includes no evidence to support claims by some Republicans who do not serve on the Benghazi panel that Clinton or other top officials ordered the military to "stand down" during the 2012 attacks. The transcript also offers no evidence that Clinton personally denied requests for additional security, Democrats said.
The transcript includes comments by Mills indicating that Clinton was "deeply engaged during and after the attacks and took action to ensure the safety and security of U.S. personnel, even as intelligence assessments of the attacks changed more than once during this period," Democrats said in a statement.
"After multiple selective and out-of-context leaks mischaracterizing Ms. Mills’ testimony, Democrats are now correcting the record by releasing the full transcript to the American people," said Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Benghazi panel.
Cummings and other Democrats have complained that Republicans have spent more than $4.5 million of taxpayer dollars on what they describe as a partisan campaign to damage Clinton’s bid for president.
The panel’s chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, disputes that claim and says the committee has been and remains focused on those killed in Benghazi and on providing a definitive account of the attacks.
Jamal Ware, a spokesman for Gowdy, said release of the transcript showed that, "once again, Democrats on the Select Committee demonstrate that for them, this is all about Hillary Clinton — and not about the four brave Americans who were killed by terrorists in Benghazi."
Ware noted that after her testimony, Mills thanked Gowdy and others on the committee for their "professionalism" and respect. He called that "a far cry from the Democrats’ deliberate misrepresentation of the fact-centric investigation being conducted by Republicans."
Meanwhile, a political action committee that supports Clinton began airing TV ads Wednesday focusing on comments by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy crediting the Benghazi panel with driving down Clinton’s poll numbers.
The ad, sponsored by Priorities USA, features a video clip of McCarthy making the comments on Fox News Channel while a narrator says, "Republicans are playing politics over Benghazi."