Newly revealed documents show that the US State Department missed the date in June 2015 it set for itself to establish a special unit to review documents regarding the Benghazi scandal.
The documents, exposed by Fox News on Friday, were created by the House committee currently investigating the 2012 terror attacks on US facilities in Benghazi.
They reveal that early in 2015 Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chairman of the committee, started working behind the scenes to get over $4 million in “reprogrammed” funds Congress had allocated for such a unit transferred over to the State Department, in an attempt to speed up the investigation.
Republican staff on the committee reached agreements with Secretary of State John Kerry’s top aides, including chief of staff Jonathan Finer, according to which the special Benghazi document review unit was to be “operational” in June 2015.
However, Fox News contacted the State Department and got it to acknowledge that it missed that date.
“The Congressional Document Production unit began staffing up in mid-2015 and is now fully operational,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told the news site in an email on late Thursday.
The Benghazi committee, which is co-chaired by Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD), for the last two years has investigated the September 11, 2012 attacks on US facilities in Benghazi, in which US Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were murdered.
Significantly, the committee has found that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who currently is leading the Democratic presidential race, used an illegal private email server for her work in a serious breach of security and secrecy.
One email from her server that was later made public revealed that Clinton gave her daughter a different version of the Benghazi attacks than the false version that she and other top administration officials were spreading publicly. The Benghazi probe also found Clinton wiped a number of emails regarding the incident from her server.
Aside from missing its deadline for the Benghazi unit, the State Department also was unwilling to reveal what happened to the funds set aside for the unit, according to the documents.
Kerry’s aides, including Finer, back in mid-2015 refused to answer repeated inquiries by Gowdy’s staff about the fate of the funds.
State Department spokesperson Mark Toner on Wednesday was asked at a press briefing if he could state that the funds for the unit were actually used for that purpose, and he said he was “fairly certain” they “would have been.”
The Benghazi committee is anticipated to complete its final report next month.