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Ranking Member Of House Oversight Committee Calls Benghazi Investigation A Plot To "Smear Public Officials"

Rep. Elijah Cummings accuses committee chairman Darrell Issa of making false accusations against top officials.

Posted on May 8, 2013, at 12:28 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — Ranking member of the House Oversight Committee Rep. Elijah Cummings accused Republicans Wednesday of turning the investigation into what happened in Benghazi into a campaign to "smear public officials" and said the committee was trying to use the witnesses for political purposes.

"What we have seen over the past two weeks is a full-scale media campaign that is not designed to investigate what happened in a responsible and bipartisan manner, but rather to launch unfounded accusations and to smear public officials," Cummings said, his voice raised, at a hearing on the Benghazi attack that features three new witnesses, one of whom a 22-year State Department veteran who was in Tripoli at the time.

"I am not questioning the motives of our witnesses," Cummings said. "I am questioning the motives of those who want to use them for political purposes."

Cummings particularly criticized committee chairman Darrell Issa, for making what Cummings suggested were false accusations against the administration and against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He cited top intelligence and military officials as well as the Washington Post's fact checker.

On Monday, Cummings released a statement accusing Republicans of leaking "snippets of interview transcripts to national media outlets in a selective and distorted manner to drum up publicity for their hearing."

"Unfortunately today I'm not the witness," Issa said when Cummings had finished.

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