Clinton: Benghazi committee exploiting Americans' deaths

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Kevin McCarthy Says Benghazi Committee Tanked Clinton's Poll Numbers

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday lashed out at the special House committee investigating the deadly attacks in Benghazi, Libya, calling it a partisan political exercise designed to "exploit" the deaths of four Americans.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's recent comments that the Benghazi panel can take credit for the Democratic front-runner's diminished public standing prove Republicans are going after her for political reasons, Clinton said in a televised interview. The presidential contender told NBC's "Today" show that if she were president, she would have "done everything" in her power to shut down such a partisan investigation.

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"Look at the situation they chose to exploit, to go after me for political reasons: the death of four Americans in Benghazi," Clinton said in an interview before a town hall appearance in New Hampshire. "This committee was set up, as they have admitted, for the purpose of making a partisan, political issue out of the deaths of four Americans," Clinton said.

Clinton was secretary of state during the 2012 attacks. She stopped short of calling for the Benghazi panel to be disbanded, as some Democrats have urged.

"That's up to Congress," she said, adding that she was looking forward to testifying before the Benghazi panel on Oct. 22 "to explain what I've done."

Clinton's comments came as Democrats on the Benghazi panel released a partial transcript of a closed-door interview with Clinton's former chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, in response to what they called selective and inaccurate Republican leaks.

Clinton pushes for gun controls:

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Clinton: Benghazi committee exploiting Americans' deaths
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton greets voters during a campaign stop at the Manchester Community College, Monday, Oct. 5, 2015, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a campaign stop at the Manchester Community College, Monday, Oct. 5, 2015, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
MANCHESTER, NH - OCTOBER 5: Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a town hall event at Manchester Community College October 5, 2015 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Clinton discussed proposals to address gun violence in the United States. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, NH - OCTOBER 5: Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (L) greets a woman at a town hall event at Manchester Community College October 5, 2015 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Clinton discussed proposals to address gun violence in the United States. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, NH - OCTOBER 5: Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a town hall event at Manchester Community College October 5, 2015 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Clinton discussed proposals to address gun violence in the United States. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, NH - OCTOBER 5: Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton reaches out to Nicole Hockley whose child was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, during a town hall event at Manchester Community College October 5, 2015 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Clinton discussed proposals to address gun violence in the United States. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, NH - OCTOBER 5: Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a town hall event at Manchester Community College October 5, 2015 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Clinton discussed proposals to address gun violence in the United States. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton campaigns during a campaign stop at the Manchester Community College, Monday, Oct. 5, 2015, in Manchester,NH (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
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Release of the transcript is "the only way to adequately correct the public record," the Democrats said in a letter to the panel's chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. They said they would release the full transcript in five days, in order to give Gowdy time to identify any specific information in the transcript he believes should be withheld from the American people in the interest of national security.

The Democrats said Mills refuted several GOP allegations about the Benghazi attacks, which killed U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Democrats released comments by Mills in which she rejected a claim that Clinton issued a "stand down" order blocking U.S. troops from rescuing those trapped at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. The stand-down order has been widely debunked.

Clinton "said we need to be taking whatever steps we can, to do whatever we can to secure our people," Mills said, according to a partial transcript released by Democrats.

Mills also said Clinton was "very concerned" on the night of the attacks and "worried about our team on the ground in Benghazi" and State Department personnel throughout Libya.

Clinton was especially concerned about Stevens, a friend and "someone she had lot of confidence and respect for," Mill said, according to the partial transcript.

McCarthy, R-Calif., who is considered likely to become House speaker following John Boehner's surprise resignation, said last week, "Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping."

McCarthy called Clinton "untrustable" and said, "no one would have known any of that had happened had we not fought and made that happen."

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the senior Democrat on the Benghazi panel, called it "shameful" that Republicans have "used the tragedy... for political gain."

Republicans have spent $4.5 million in taxpayer money "to pay for a political campaign against Hillary Clinton," Cummings said.

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Clinton's email scandal:

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Clinton: Benghazi committee exploiting Americans' deaths
FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2016 file photo, Democratic presidential hopeful former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks in San Gabriel, Calif. The State Department released Friday another 3,000 pages of emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private email account, missing a court-ordered goal for their production by a week. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
Representative Susan Brooks, a Republican from Indiana, questions Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, not pictured, during a House Select Committee on Benghazi hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. Under scrutiny for her handling of the Benghazi attacks and her use of a private e-mail server, Clinton plans to invoke the memory of slain U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens to defend her approach to diplomacy, saying they shared a common belief in the need for America to lead. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
In this photo taken Aug. 27, 2015, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks in Cleveland. The State Department is expected to release roughly 7,000 pages of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's emails later Monday, including about 150 that have been censored because they contain information that has now been deemed classified. (AP Photo/David Richard)
This portion of an email from Hillary Rodham Clinton's private email account when she was secretary of state and released by the State Department on Sept. 30, 2015, shows an email Clinton received early in the morning on Aug. 3, 2011. The newly released emails show Russia-linked hackers tried at least five times to pry into Clinton's private email account while she was secretary of state. It is unclear if she clicked on any attachment and exposed her account. Clinton received the infected emails, disguised as speeding tickets, over four hours early the morning of Aug. 3, 2011. The emails instructed recipients to print the attached tickets, which would have allowed hackers to take control of their computers. Security researchers who analyzed the malicious software have said that infected computers would transmit information from victims to at least three server computers overseas, including one in Russia. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)
FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2015 file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa. The State Department review of Clinton's emails so far has found as many as 305 messages that could contain classified information and require further review by federal agencies, the department said Monday. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 11, 2015 file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton listens as she meets with voters during a campaign stop at River Valley Community College in Claremont, N.H. Clinton has relented to months of demands that she relinquish the personal email server she used while secretary of state, directing the device be given to the Justice Department. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks before the National Urban League, Friday, July 31, 2015, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
FILE - In this July 7, 2015, file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a campaign stop at the Iowa City Public Library in Iowa City, Iowa. A special House committee on the 2012 Benghazi attacks has devolved from an investigation into the deaths of four Americans in Libya into a political fight over Clinton’s emails and private computer servers, in a battle that is likely to stretch into the 2016 presidential election year. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks, Friday, July 24, 2015, at the New York University Leonard N. Stern School of Business in New York. Federal investigators have alerted the Justice Department to a "potential compromise of classified information" arising from the private email server used by Clinton in her home, a department official said Friday. Clinton commented briefly on the issue saying, "We are all accountable to the American people to get the facts right, and I will do my part but I'm also going to stay focused on the issues." (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at an event at the New York University Leonard N. Stern School of Business in New York on July 24, 2015. The Justice Department said it had received a request to probe whether Hillary Clinton mishandled sensitive government information by using her private email for State Department business. 'The Department has received a referral related to the potential compromise of classified information,' a department official said in a brief statement that confirmed in part a story that first appeared in The New York Times. AFP PHOTO/ KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - In this April 29, 2015, file photo, Huma Abedin, attends the David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum in New York. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon has given the State Department a few months to provide The Associated Press with thousands of documents it sought in a federal lawsuit. The Aug. 7, order means the documents, including schedules and calendars from former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will be released months ahead of the spring presidential primary elections. Leon ordered the department to produce within 30 days records related to Abedin, a former top Clinton aide, during her time as secretary of state. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to the media after keynoting a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations March 10, 2015 in New York City. Clinton answered questions about recent allegations of an improperly used email account during her tenure as secretary of state. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton answers questions from reporters March 10, 2015 at the United Nations in New York. Clinton admitted Tuesday that she made a mistake in choosing for convenience not to use an official email account when she was secretary of state. But, in remarks to reporters after attending a United Nations event, she insisted that her email set-up had been properly secure and that she had turned over all professional communications to the State Department. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to the media after keynoting a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations March 10, 2015 in New York City. Clinton answered questions about recent allegations of an improperly used email account during her tenure as secretary of state. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to the media after keynoting a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations March 10, 2015 in New York City. Clinton answered questions about recent allegations of an improperly used email account during her tenure as secretary of state. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to the media after keynoting a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations March 10, 2015 in New York City. Clinton answered questions about recent allegations of an improperly used email account during her tenure as secretary of state. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Huma Abedin (R), aide to former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, looks on during a news conference following Clinton's keynote speech at a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations. Clinton answered questions about recent allegations of an improperly used email account during her tenure as secretary of state. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 03: Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and other members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi speak to reporters at a press conference on the findings of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's personal emails at the U.S. Capitol on March 3, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The New York Times reported that Clinton may have violated the law by using a personal email account for official business at the State Department. (Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 03: Peter Roskam (R-IL), Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) of the House Select Committee on Benghazi speak to reporters at a press conference on the findings of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's personal emails at the U.S. Capitol on March 3, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The New York Times reported that Clinton may have violated the law by using a personal email account for official business at the State Department. (Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton answers questions from reporters March 10, 2015 at the United Nations in New York. Clinton admitted Tuesday that she made a mistake in choosing for convenience not to use an official email account when she was secretary of state. But, in remarks to reporters after attending a United Nations event, she insisted that her email set-up had been properly secure and that she had turned over all professional communications to the State Department. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 03: Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) of the House Select Committee on Benghazi speaks to reporters at a press conference on the findings of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's personal emails at the U.S. Capitol on March 3, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The New York Times reported that Clinton may have violated the law by using a personal email account for official business at the State Department. (Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Jan. 23, 2013 file photo, then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Congressional aides say the special House committee investigating the 2012 attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, will issue subpoenas for Clinton's personal emails. The aides say that possible as early as Wednesday, the committee will seek the additional material from the potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
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