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Benghazi chair lashes out at ex-staffer's accusations

After a former investigator with the House Select Committee on Benghazi publicly charged the panel with a partisan probe of Hillary Clinton, Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, fired back with a blistering denouncement of what he called "salacious allegations."

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Bradley Podliska, who worked for the committee's Republican majority for ten months as an investigator, had accused the committee of unfairly terminating him over his reluctance to engage in a politically-motivated examination of the former secretary of state.

"I was fired for trying to conduct an objective, non-partisan, thorough investigation," Podliska said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN. The former staffer, who is seeking compensation for lost wages in a suit against the committee, charged that the panel "had become a partisan investigation" and that he didn't understand "the reason for the hyper-focus on Hillary Clinton."

But Gowdy, leading the committee that has so far spent over $4 million in its examination of the events surrounding the 2011 terrorist strikes, said that the accusations were unfounded. Podliska, the South Carolina Republican said, had "not produced documentary proof" of the accusations, even after weeks of ongoing legal mediation.

A committee spokesperson responded to the attacks in a statement Saturday, turning the accusations of a politically-motivated investigation back onto Podliska.

"Directly contrary to his brand new assertion, the employee actually was terminated, in part, because he himself manifested improper partiality and animus in his investigative work," a panel spokesperson said.

Gowdy backed up the committee's response, and added that Podliska had even asked interns help with a project that focused on Clinton and the National Security Council. The committee, according to Gowdy, told Podliska his project was "not approved."

"This individual was hired as a former intelligence staffer to focus on intelligence, not the politics of White House talking points," Gowdy said. Furthermore, the chair added, Podliska had not mentioned any complaint regarding Clinton while working for the committee.

"Throughout the pendency of an ongoing legal mediation, which is set to conclude October 13, this staffer has not mentioned Secretary Clinton," he said. "But as this process prepares to wrap, he has demanded money from the Committee, the Committee has refused to pay him, and he has now run to the press with his new salacious allegations about Secretary Clinton."

According to a draft of the suit, Podliska was told by the committee staff that he had been terminated for mishandling classified information, among other reasons. Gowdy has called his performance on staff "deficient" and that "issues with his conduct were noted on the record as far back as April."

Podlaski, an intelligence officer with the Air Force Reserves, also charge that the committee had fired him because he had taken a few weeks leave to carry out military duties in Germany.

Gowdy pushed back against that claim as well, noting that "this staffer's reserve duty was approved" the two times it was requested.

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