Top Republican threatens more subpoenas over Benghazi

CNN —  

The Republican chairman investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi is threatening to issue more subpoenas unless the Obama administration responds faster to his committee’s information requests.

House Benghazi Select Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy has called former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal for a deposition, committee spokesman Jamal Ware told CNN late Tuesday night.

And Blumenthal could just be the beginning.

“Gowdy intends to speed up the process, and if that means issuing more subpoenas, that’s going to happen. He’s grown tired of the lack of compliance from State Department and the administration,” a committee aide told CNN.

The South Carolina Republican also plans to start private transcribed interviews with top State Department officials in the next several weeks, the aide said.

The committee also wants to talk to Blumenthal, a longtime Clinton ally who was not a State Department employee, about memos he sent to Clinton about Libya.

“The committee is interested in what role he played at the State Department and how his role was financed. Who was paying him and who was he paying? Basically, his business arrangements,” said a source familiar with the committee’s thinking.

On Tuesday, Clinton said she saw no conflict with Blumenthal’s emails.

“I have many, many old friends,” she told reporters in Iowa. “I’m going to keep talking to my old friends, whoever they are.”

In November, Gowdy asked the State Department to turn over the emails of 10 senior State Department officials that served with Clinton. In March, Gowdy subpoenaed the information. And last week, he wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry, complaining that “not a single document has been produced by the State Department.”

The committee, which had been waiting to review the staffers’ emails before interviewing them, now plans to move forward, the aide said.

The committee, the aide said, plans to call:

– Susan Rice, former U.N. ambassador, now White House National Security adviser;

– Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s former chief of staff;

– William Burns and Tom Nides, former deputy secretaries of state;

– Huma Abedin and Jake Sullivan, former deputy chiefs of staff;

– Patrick Kennedy and Wendy Sherman, undersecretaries of state;

– Jeffery Feltman, a former assistant secretary of state;

– Phillipe Reines, a former deputy assistant secretary.

The emails of Clinton’s inner circle are particularly important because Clinton used a personal email server to do official government business as secretary of state, and she has argued that the emails she sent to staffers’ government accounts would be preserved by the State Department. She has also turned over about 30,000 emails to the State Department, which said it would release them to the public.

Gowdy has said that he won’t call Clinton to testify until he has the emails he requested from top State Department officials.

“The committee needs these emails to have some sense of the completeness of Secretary Clinton’s self-selected public record and to formulate substantive questions for her on Benghazi,” he said last week.

Democrats argue Gowdy is milking the investigation so that it bleeds into 2016, an attempt to score political points against Clinton in an election year. But Gowdy has said he wants to finish his investigation by year’s end and blames any delay on the administration’s foot dragging.

“He’s signaling that he intends to ramp up the pace of the committee’s work because he wants to finish this by 2015 from an investigative standpoint,” a committee aide said.

CNN’s Jeff Zeleny contributed to this report.