Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., denounced the House Select Committee on Benghazi as well as news site Politico Monday for leaking inaccurate emails in an effort to undermine former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In a letter, sent to Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and published here, Cummings, the panel's ranking Democrat, raises concerns about multiple mischaracterizations of Clinton's messages and calls for greater security.
The letter centers around a June 17 Politico story in which an anonymous source describes how Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal regularly sent her talking points from Media Matters, a liberal media watchdog group founded by David Brock. The source reportedly reviewed a series of their emails about the 2012 consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya.
Cummings alleges that some of Politico's assertions aren't accurate. For example, at one point it reads:
"Got all this done. … Complete refutation on Libya smear,” Blumenthal wrote to Clinton in an Oct. 10, 2012, email into which he had pasted links to four Media Matters posts criticizing Fox News and Republicans for politicizing the Benghazi attacks and challenging claims of lax security around the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, according to a source who has reviewed the email exchange. Blumenthal signed off the email to Clinton by suggesting that one of her top aides, Philippe Reines, “can circulate these links,” according to the source. Clinton responded: “Thanks, I’m pushing to WH,” according to the source.
But Clinton's "Thanks, I'm pushing to WH" email wasn't a reply to Blumenthal's Oct. 10 email. It was sent a week earlier in a separate email chain about a Salon article, Cummings said. Politico issued a vague correction on the issue the day the article went live, and the story no longer includes the line in question, the Washington Post reported.
The article also suggested that the email exchange hadn't been turned over by the State Department, which Cummings disputed. "The source apparently took an email that was produced to the Select Committee in February, isolated Secretary Clinton’s statement about the White House, removed it from the original email exchange about the presidential debates, and then added it to a different email exchange involving Media Matters," he wrote. "Unfortunately, this is only the latest in a reckless pattern of selective Republican leaks and mischaracterizations of evidence relating to the Benghazi attacks."
Cummings wants Gowdy to implement rules for handling sensitive documents like Clinton's emails because he said someone who had access to them leaked false info from them to the press. "It is unclear how you propose to prevent this type of abuse from happening again in the future," Cummings wrote to Gowdy.