October 11, 2015 / 6:16 PM / 4 years ago

Benghazi panel head says staffer never mentioned Clinton when fired

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a community forum campaign event at Cornell College in Mt Vernon, Iowa, October 7, 2015. REUTERS/Scott Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former investigator for the Republican-led U.S. House committee on Benghazi - who accused it of targeting Hillary Clinton - never expressed unhappiness about Clinton’s treatment in discussions leading up to his firing, the panel’s head said on Sunday.

Major Bradley Podliska, an Air Force Reserve intelligence officer on active duty in Germany and a Republican, alleged in a CNN interview taped on Friday that he resisted pressure to focus his investigation into Clinton’s role on the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

The Democratic presidential candidate was secretary of state at the time of the attack, which killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Podliska did not mention Clinton “at any time during counseling for deficient performance” or when he was terminated in June for the same reason, Representative Trey Gowdy, the head of the House of Representatives’ Select Committee on Benghazi, said in a statement.

In September, “this staffer had a chance to bare his soul, and raise his claim this committee was focused on Secretary Clinton in a legal document, not an interview, and he did not do it,” Gowdy said.

Podliska has said he plans to sue the panel in federal court over his firing, seeking lost pay.

The committee has come under criticism since House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who had been expected to become speaker of the House, suggested in a television interview that the taxpayer-funded investigation into Benghazi was designed to hurt Clinton as she seeks the Democratic nomination to run for president in November 2016.

McCarthy later said he had not meant to suggest the committee’s purpose had been to harm Clinton. On Thursday, he bowed out of the race for speaker, leaving House Republicans in disarray.

Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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