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Cheryl Mills, Hillary Clinton Aide, Appears Before House Panel

The New York Times logo The New York Times 9/3/2015 By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT

WASHINGTON — Cheryl Mills, a longtime lawyer and adviser to Hillary Rodham Clinton, testified before a Congressional committee on Thursday morning about Mrs. Clinton’s personal email account and the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

The panel took a lunch break at noon and the questioning continued shortly before 1 p.m.

As Ms. Mills was being interviewed behind closed doors, the panel’s top Democrat, Representative Elijah E. Cummings, called on the committee’s Republican chairman to release a copy of Ms. Mills’ testimony. She had asked to testify in public, but the Republicans rejected that request, saying they had conducted all of their interviews in private.

“The entire public does not deserve to have leaks that are taken out of context, and leaving the wrong impression,” Mr. Cummings said to a group of reporters assembled near the interview.

It is not clear whether the committee’s chairman, Trey Gowdy, will release the transcript. After Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime adviser to Mrs. Clinton, testified before the panel in June, Mr. Gowdy declined to grant Mr. Cummings’ request to make the transcript public.

Before Thursday’s hearing began, Mr. Gowdy told reporters why he had insisted that the Mills interview be done in private.

“If you’re serious about getting the most amount of information, you are going to get it in a transcribed interview session, not in a public session where members are limited to five or 10 minutes,” Mr. Gowdy said. “So we have not had a public fact finding interview with a single witness, and I’m not going to treat her any differently.”

On Wednesday it was revealed that Byran Pagliano, a former information technology official at the State Department who helped set up the server that housed Mrs. Clinton’s private email account, plans to invoke his Fifth Amendment right in response to questions from the committee. Mr. Pagliano’s lawyer declined to comment.

A Clinton campaign aide said that Mr. Pagliano’s decision was “both understandable and disappointing to us, because we believe he has every reason to be transparent about his I.T. assistance.”

“We had hoped Bryan would also agree to answer any questions from the committee and had recently encouraged him to grant the committee’s request for an interview,” the aide said.

The aide added, “Bryan is an utter professional and a wonderful young man who does not live in the public eye and understandably may not wish to be drawn into a political spectacle.”

Mr. Gowdy addressed the issue briefly before stepping into the interview. “You’re free to claim whatever inference you want from the fact that” he does not want to testify, Mr. Gowdy said.

Mr. Cummings said he was disappointed that Mr. Pagliano did not want to testify.

“When you look at all the wild accusations that have been made in regards to this committee, Benghazi, Hillary Clinton, I’m sure his lawyer made a determination that he didn’t want him to get caught up in that,” Mr. Cummings said. “He certainly has the right. Am I surprised he has decided to take the Fifth? No, I am not surprised. Am I disappointed? Yes. I would love to have heard what he had to say.”

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