A former investigator for the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Benghazi claims he was fired after he objected to the body's exclusive focus on Hillary Clinton, according to an interview scheduled to air Sunday morning on CNN's State of the Union. Maj. Bradley Podliska, a self-described "conservative Republican" and Air Force reservist, says he believes the committee started with a noble goal of finding the truth and needs to be "steered back to its original mission" after becoming fixated on Clinton's actions around the attack in Libya on Sept. 11, 2012:
Podliska, who was fired after nearly 10 months as an investigator for the Republican majority, is now preparing to file a lawsuit against the select committee next month, alleging that he lost his job in part because he resisted pressure to focus his investigative efforts solely on the State Department and Clinton's role surrounding the Benghazi attack. He also alleges he was fired because he took leave from the committee to fulfill his military service obligations, which would be an unlawful firing.
Podliska told Jake Tapper that the committee's Clinton-centric approach drained resources for other investigations and amounted to denying the truth to the loved ones of the diplomatic staff killed in Libya in 2012. The families, Podliska said, deserved to know everything, "whether or not Hillary Clinton was involved, whether or not other individuals were involved. The victims' families are not going to get the truth and that's the most unfortunate thing about this."
The reasons given for his firing, Podliska told Tapper, don't add up:
Podliska alleges that the committee's staff director told him he was fired for three reasons: using work email to send a social invitation to colleagues, assigning an "unauthorized project" to an intern and allegedly putting classified information on an unclassified system. Podliska, an intelligence officer who was hired for his expertise with the intelligence community, strongly denies the latter. He also disputes the legitimacy of the other two reasons cited to him by the committee, in particular assigning any "unauthorized projects" to interns.
According to the New York Times, a senior staff member on the committee appeared skeptical of Podliska's requests for leave in order to serve active duty in the Air Force, asking "whether he really needs to go to Germany." Other staffers might have grumbled about his absence, Podliska said, because he needed to leave the country just as their investigation into Clinton's private email server was ramping up.
The accusations that he wasted government resources on social chatter, Podliska told CNN, are especially galling considering what he observed his fellow staffers doing during his tenure at the committee, where "there was very little work being done":
He said half the staff was "surfing the Web all day long" and said "there was plenty of drinking during the work day."
And while he was reprimanded for sharing an invitation to an event with his colleagues via work email, he said a group of staffers had set up a "gun buying club" for "chrome-plated, monogrammed Tiffany-style Glock nine millimeters" and that staffers would spend "hours at a time" designing the guns.
The committee has maintained, via a statement sent to the New York Times, that Podliska was "terminated for cause" and that they are "confident that the facts and evidence give no support to the wild imagination fueling these and any future allegations."
The interview, which will air at 9 a.m. Eastern time on Sunday, promises to be a rare look inside a controversial project that has now stretched longer than the Watergate investigation, consumed more than $4 million in public resources, and tripped up John Boehner's heir apparent on his way to becoming third in line for the presidency.
Podliska, for the record, wants it to be known that he is not taking on the Benghazi committee in order to mount a political defense of the former secretary of state and current Democratic presidential contender. "I am going to vote for the Republican nominee in 2016," he told CNN. "I do not support Hillary Clinton for president."