WASHINGTON — The top ranking Democrat on the House Select Committee on Benghazi says the Republican chairman has known for months that Hillary Clinton is willing to testify, but chose not to have her do so.
In a letter to chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings said that after receiving thousands of letters from the Stop Hillary PAC, Gowdy personally asked him to call Clinton and ask her to give public testimony to the select committee.
According to Cummings, she agreed to come to Capitol Hill as early as December 2014, and he said he told Gowdy that in October.
In a statement to Politico this week, a spokeswoman for Gowdy said he was "not aware of any formal notice that she would [testify]."
Cummings also writes there was a phone call on Nov. 12, 2014 involving Republican and Democratic staff members, where Clinton's attorney "confirmed the Secretary's willingness to testify."
Clinton, the likely Democratic presidential candidate who was secretary of state when the U.S. embassy in Benghazi was attacked, answered questions in front of Congress once before in 2013.
Cummings said that after learning Clinton was willing to testify, Gowdy said he wanted to obtain "additional documents" before setting a date for her to testify.
"This was a new standard you had not expressed before obtaining the secretary's agreement to testify, and this standard has not been applied to the other witnesses before the Committee," he wrote.
Read the letter here:
Gowdy sent a letter to Cummings saying that in private conversations Cummings agreed Clinton should not testify until all documents the committee asked for were acquired.
"So while Secretary Clinton's position has not changed and the commonsensical understanding that you cannot constructively question any witness without access to the underlying documents has not chnaged, your position has — at least twice," Gowdy wrote.
In his letter, Gowdy referred to an article in The Hill from December that said Cummings "would oppose calling on Clinton to testify because the State Department's Accountability Review Board that investigated Benghazi had already talked to her."
"If you believe you were quoted inaccurately I assume you took that up with the author of the article," Gowdy wrote.
Gowdy said now instead of asking Cummings to reach out to Clinton, he's asked his staff to reach out to her directly.
"I have asked my staff to reach out to Secretary Clinton or her designee to schedule her appearance before the Committee as soon as practicable after the production of relevant requested documents," he wrote.
A State Department aide told BuzzFeed News it is up "to Congress and to Secretary Clinton" as to whether she should testify.