Former GOP staffer says Benghazi probe improperly targeted Clinton

A former staff member for the Republican-led House of Representatives committee investigating the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, is claiming the panel improperly targeted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Air Force Reserve Maj. Bradley Podliska, a self-described conservative Republican, told CNN on Sunday that he was fired in June for trying to conduct a non-partisan investigation.

“Hillary Clinton has a lot of explaining to do,” he told CNN. “We, however, do 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.”

Podliska has said he plans to file a lawsuit alleging wrongful termination.

Benghazi committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said in a statement that Podliska was fired for cause and never raised any red flags while working with them.

He said he never instructed Podliska to focus on Clinton, and the committee is not doing so.

“This Committee always has been, and will be, focused on the four brave Americans we lost in Benghazi and providing the final, definitive accounting of the Benghazi terrorist attacks for the American people,” he said.

Gowdy also lambasted CNN for broadcasting what he what he called a “sensationalistic” claim.

“Had CNN contacted the Committee regarding its interview with this staffer before it rushed to air his sensationalistic and fabulist claims, it could have fully questioned him about his unsubstantiated claims,” the statement said. “But that is the difference between journalism as practiced by CNN, and the fact-centric investigation being conducted by this Committee.”

The accusations made by Podliska on CNN follow House Majority leader Kevin McCarthy’s statement on Fox that the Benghazi probe has hurt Clinton’s approval ratings.

Speaking with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, McCarthy said:

“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. Why? Because she’s un-trustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not fought and made that happen.”

McCarthy later issued a statement saying that the Benghazi committee’s mission was to “find the truth — period,” and said the work the group has done is “beyond reproach.”

On Thursday, McCarthy withdrew his candidacy for speaker of the House. He had been heavily favored to be nominated by his fellow Republicans.