Chairman Trey Gowdy, who heads the House Select Committee on Benghazi, joined me in the first hour today:
HH: It’s also South Carolina day on the Hugh Hewitt Show. I began with Senator Lindsey Graham, pleased to welcome now Congressman Trey Gowdy. He’s chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Congressman Gowdy, great to have you on the program, thanks for joining me.
TG: I am thrilled to be with you. It sounds like you’re working your way up towards Tim Scott.
HH: Eventually, we’re going to cover you all. It’s not many, it’s not that big of a delegation, and they’re all worth talking to. Congressman, let’s start with the obvious one. At the end of March, you requested Mrs. Clinton appear before the Select Committee on Benghazi. Has she agreed to appear?
TG: She has agreed to appear. Well, let me say this. She has never not indicated a willingness. But my ground rules have always been I need an assurance that I have all documents that are relevant so I can have a constructive conversation. In other words, I’d be a really lousy lawyer if I use my one opportunity to talk to a witness before I had all the emails and other documents. So until somebody can make an assurance to me that we have everything that we are entitled to, and by that I mean relevant material to Libya and Benghazi, I can’t schedule her appearance. And now this was all before the email arrangement that she had with herself. That necessitates two conversations as opposed to one.
HH: And so she is going to have to appear with you twice, you think?
TG: Well, I have invited her to respond before May 1st, and to me, a condition precedent of having a conversation about Benghazi, is us discussing her email arrangement. And I offered for that to be what we call a transcribed interview, which is tantamount to a deposition. If there are security considerations, if there are national security considerations, in other words, I’m not interested in political theater. I really want you to answer questions about your email arrangement. I have not heard back from her. But I can tell you that is a condition precedent to our being able to have a constructive conversation about Benghazi.
HH: When is the deadline for her responding? April 30th?
TG: May the 1st.
HH: May the 1st.
TG: I gave her lawyer, David Kendall, until May the 1st to come talk to Congress in a private setting. We have, as you can imagine, a number of questions. And to the best of my knowledge, the only time she’s been questioned about this email arrangement was at a press conference at the United Nations.
HH: If they do not respond, or if they decline, will she be subpoenaed?
TG: I hope it does not come to that point, Hugh, but we most assuredly need to talk to her about Benghazi. And again, I want to be fair to her. She’s never indicated that she would not come. But I also am going to be very firm that it is a condition precedent to my being able to talk to her about Benghazi for me to understand that I have all the documents I’m entitled to. And I can’t ask…
HH: But now, Mr. Chairman, I’m not a prosecutor like you. I’m just a little administrative lawyer. And so I just need, I think you just said that she’d be subpoenaed if she did not meet your condition precedent. I just don’t want to misunderstand it. Is that a good reading of what you just said?
TG: We’re going to have to talk to her.
HH: All right.
TG: And I hope it does not come to the point of formal legal process, and I’ve got no indication from her that it would. But we are going to need to talk to her.
HH: All right, any situation, whether she talks to you pursuant to an agreement that’s worked out with Mr. Kendall or via subpoena, would any testimony she provides, or any conversation you have, be under oath?
TG: All of it would be.
HH: Will it all be subject to the False Statements Act?
TG: All of it would be.
HH: Will there be any time limit, you know, her husband ran out the clock in a very famous outmaneuvering of Ken Starr. Will there be any time limit on your conversation with her?
TG: Well, and therein lies the limitations of the legislative branch. We actually have double the time that any other committee of Congress would have, because I told the Speaker I need more than five minutes. So the members of my committee get ten minutes each in public hearings. The transcribed interview, which the negative is it’s private, which means your listeners can’t watch it, and I don’t like to leak, so I’m not going to leak the details of it. That is without time limit. So you almost have to pick your forum, and you pick your limitation. If it’s public, everyone gets to see it, but you’re limited 10 minutes per member. If it’s private, no one gets to see it, but there’s no time limit.
HH: But it is subject to the False Statements Act, then?
TG: All of it is. You cannot lie to a committee of the Congress regardless of whether an oath is administered and regardless of whether you are warned ahead of time. You cannot make materially false statements to Congress, period.
HH: So I am personally voting to the extent that you care what talk show hosts say for the transcribed interview that goes on as long as necessary, because I always like to talk to people as long as I need them on the radio. Now to the server, would physical possession of the server, Trey Gowdy, assist in determining if the server had been compromised by foreign intelligence services?
HH: Is that necessary for your investigation to know?
TG: I think it is necessary for Congress to know. For my committee, which has a more limited jurisdiction, we number one lack the authority under House rules to subpoena the server. The House as an entity, it’s an open legal question, but most experts believe that the House could subpoena that server. And I would think if you’re interested in national security breaches, and also the completeness of the public record, that you would want a neutral, detached arbiter as opposed to her own lawyer. You are a very, very good lawyer. I was a mediocre lawyer, but I did it for a long time. The lawyer’s obligation is to the client. I want someone with an obligation to my fellow citizens to say the public record is complete. I can’t just take her lawyer’s word for it.
HH: Now let’s just both assume we’re both mediocre lawyers, but let’s both assume that the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 is known to us both. If anyone communicated in private email to the Secretary who was being paid to do so by a foreign entity or interest, would that not raise a question of violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938?
TG: I would be among the least knowledgeable people in the world about the act you just referenced. And it would be so far outside the jurisdiction of what I have been asked to do, I haven’t even looked at the act.
HH: I think you ought to, because I have been told Sidney Blumenthal was sending her some pretty interesting emails, and those mails may not have been coming full of straight information. And he’s a public figure, so I don’t want to go further than that. Have you subpoenaed Sidney Blumenthal?
TG: He is on the list, and I’ll tell you, because I think your listeners would be interested in the chronology. We are taking the witnesses from the Department of State and CIA whose identities need to be preserved, we’re doing them first, and those are transcribed interviews. Then we are moving into the people who are more well known, the Susan Rice’s, the Ben Rhodes, and yes, you can include Sidney Blumenthal.
HH: I’ll be right back with Trey Gowdy. A few more questions, America, after this break. Stay tuned.
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HH: It’s Hugh Hewitt with Chairman Trey Gowdy of the Select Committee on Benghazi whose had trouble connecting with Hillary Clinton thus far. Have you tried hanging out at Chipotle’s, yet, Mr. Chairman?
TG: (laughing) No, I don’t have a car in Washington, and Tom Cotton won’t let me borrow his, so I have not.
HH: All right, so I want to, just a couple of quick questions on the witness list. Before we went to break, you said you’re going to have to talk to the former Secretary of State in a transcribed interview or in testimony, either voluntarily or via, as you implied but did not expressly say, subpoena. You said the same thing about Sidney Blumenthal, and you said you’re starting from the classified and moving forward. Will your witness list include, either voluntarily or via subpoena, Cheryl Mills, the former Secretary of State’s chief of staff?
TG: Absolutely, and it was always going to include Ms. Mills. But if you studied the correspondence between the State Department and Secretary Clinton after she decided to return the public record to the public a couple of months ago, that correspondence was directed to Cheryl Mills. So Cheryl Mills needs to be talked to not only with respect to Benghazi, but also with respect to the retention of the public records by Secretary Clinton after she separated.
HH: And Chairman Gowdy, will you be talking with, either voluntarily or via subpoena, Huma Abedin, one of the former Secretary of State’s senior aides during this period of time, though she may have left the staff formerly. She’s always been a second daughter to her.
TG: You have to if you want to write the final, definitive accounting of what happened before, during and after Benghazi.
HH: Have you been in touch with her and made that request, yet?
TG: No, she would be in that public group. We want to, when you get the witnesses on the ground, that, as you know from doing investigations and depositions, you build on the earlier work, and it creates better questions when you do get around to the Susan Rice’s and the Mike Morrell’s and the Huma Abedin’s.
HH: And finally, there was a night, on the night of the Benghazi attack and murders, Gregory Hicks was in Tripoli. He received a phone call that included the Secretary of State. Have you requested of the NSA, do you intend to subpoena, any electronic recording of that conversation?
TG: We are going to get every piece of evidence that is relevant, material, and available, no matter the source, and which would include the last question you asked.
HH: Do you know, yet, if that exists?
TG: We know this, that the mantra that seven previous committees have exhaustively looked at Benghazi is balderdash. I was at Langley yesterday, and we got a production of documents today that no other committee has looked at. So there are…
TG: …there are lots of things that exist that no other committee of Congress either had access to or asked for.
HH: Let me just say, Mr. Chairman, I’m never talking to you under oath, ever.
TG: (laughing) You haven’t done anything wrong.
HH: No, I haven’t, but I’m still not going to do it. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, come back and talk to us again soon.
End of interview.