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Former Benghazi committee investigator accuses panel of targeting Clinton

Former Benghazi committee investigator accuses panel of targeting Clinton
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks Oct. 7 during a campaign stop at the Westfair Amphitheater in Council Bluffs, Iowa. (Nati Harnik / Associated Press)

A former investigator with the Republican-led congressional committee examining the attacks in Benghazi in 2012 says he was fired after resisting pressure to narrowly focus his investigative work on Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Maj. Bradley Podliska, who describes himself as a conservative Republican, told CNN that in March the panel abandoned its broader investigation of the events that led up to the deaths in Benghazi, Libya, of four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, to focus instead on Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of State.

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He said that by the time he was dismissed, the work of the House Select Committee on Benghazi had become "a partisan investigation."

The intelligence officer in the Air Force Reserve is planning to file a wrongful-termination suit in federal court next month, as first reported by CNN and the New York Times. He said he was fired for refusing to go along with the new direction of the committee's work, as well as for taking leave to meet his military service requirements.

Democrats have long said that the investigation into the attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi was driven by politics.

The committee forcefully denied the allegations. It said in a statement that Podliska never raised such concerns while with the panel, and that he himself had inappropriately used committee resources to create a PowerPoint "hit piece" on members of the Obama administration, including then-Secretary of State Clinton.

The committee's work has been a point of focus in the presidential campaign. Clinton, who is seeking the Democratic nomination, is set to testify Oct. 22. Democrats have described the inquiry as a partisan witch hunt and a waste of taxpayer money, and party members are considering resigning from the panel in protest.

The Clinton campaign's charges of bias on the committee were bolstered recently by comments on Fox News by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield). He boasted that the committee's work had driven down Clinton's popularity with voters.

Podliska told CNN he does not support Clinton and will support whoever wins the GOP nomination. He said that "the victims' families, they deserve the truth -- whether or not Hillary Clinton was involved, whether or not other individuals were involved."

"Hillary Clinton has a lot of explaining to do," he said in the CNN interview, which will air at 9 a.m. Sunday. "We, however, did not need to shift resources to hyper-focus on Hillary Clinton. We didn't need to de-emphasize and in some cases drop the investigation on different agencies, different organizations and different individuals.… There's wrongdoing here, and I think it needs to stop."

Podliska, who said he was reprimanded for using his work email to invite colleagues to a nonwork event, said there was an "Animal House" atmosphere at the committee, but he was not part of it.

He described to CNN an office environment in which employees spent their days Web surfing and sometimes drinking at work. He said staffers joined a "gun buying club" for "chrome-plated, monogrammed, Tiffany-style Glock 9-millimeters," and some would spend hours at a time at work designing the personalized weapons.

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