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WASHINGTON — House Democrats on Monday moved to preempt the findings of a two-year Republican-led investigation into the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans were killed, by issuing their own report that cast the inquiry as a politically motivated crusade that wasted time and money.

The release of the Democrats' 339-page report came amid signs that the House Select Committee on Benghazi, led by its chairman, Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina, was nearing the release of its findings.

In the face of intense criticism, Gowdy has repeatedly defended the committee's work as the most comprehensive examination of the attacks in Benghazi, which occurred on Sept. 11, 2012, and resulted in the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens; a State Department official, Sean Smith; and two Central Intelligence Agency contractors, Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty, a native of Winchester, Mass.


In recent days, the committee has reiterated long-standing complaints about lack of cooperation with the investigation by the Obama administration, including a statement by Gowdy on Monday citing obstruction by the State Department.

The committee has also cited the refusal by the White House to have President Obama respond to written questions.

"For nearly a year and a half, the State Department has withheld documents and information about Benghazi and Libya from the American people's elected representatives in Congress," Gowdy said in the statement.

"Whatever the administration is hiding, its justifications for doing so are imaginary and appear to be invented for the sake of convenience,'' Gowdy said. "That's not how complying with a congressional subpoena works, and it's well past time the department stops stonewalling."

In their counternarrative, the Democrats serving on the Select Committee said they had been virtually shut out of the process of developing the report, and they accused their Republican counterparts of trying to besmirch Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president who was secretary of state during the Benghazi attack.


"Section II of our report documents the grave abuses that Select Committee Republicans engaged in during this investigation," the Democrats wrote.

"Republicans excluded Democrats from interviews, concealed exculpatory evidence, withheld interview transcripts, leaked inaccurate information, issued unilateral subpoenas, sent armed Marshals to the home of a cooperative witness, and even conducted political fund-raising by exploiting the deaths of four Americans," they wrote.

The Democrats singled out Gowdy for criticism. "In our opinion, Chairman Gowdy has been conducting this investigation like an overzealous prosecutor desperately trying to land a front-page conviction rather than a neutral judge of facts seeking to improve the security of our diplomatic corps," they wrote.

The Democrats' report included praise for US personnel in Benghazi and Tripoli, the Libyan capital, saying they "conducted themselves with extraordinary courage and heroism," and determined that the US personnel could not have saved the four who died.

The report includes some criticism: "The State Department's security measures in Benghazi were woefully inadequate as a result of decisions made by officials in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security."

But it absolves Clinton of responsibility, adding, "Secretary Clinton never personally denied any requests for additional security in Benghazi."

The Democrats accused the Republicans of spending more than $7 million on an investigation that they argued would not reveal any substantially new information, following multiple previous inquiries.

The Republicans sharply dismissed the Democrats' report on Monday, turning the main Democratic criticism around — saying that they were overly focused on Clinton.


"Benghazi Committee Democrats' obsession with the former secretary of state is on full display," the committee's press secretary, Matt Wolking, said in a statement, which also accused the Democrats of issuing "rehashed, partisan talking points defending their endorsed candidate for president."

Noting that in the Democrats' report, Clinton's name appeared 339 times compared with 85 mentions of Stevens, Wolking added: "As Chairman Gowdy has said, this is not about one person. This investigation is about the four brave Americans we lost in Libya.''

Republican insistence that the investigation is not politically motivated was undermined last year when House majority leader Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, suggested that the House committee could take credit for Clinton's then-slumping poll numbers.

In a separate development Monday, another 165 pages of e-mails from Clinton's time at the State Department surfaced.

The latest e-mails were released under court order by the State Department to the conservative legal advocacy group Judicial Watch. The batch includes 34 new e-mails Clinton exchanged through her private account with her deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin. The aide, who also had a private e-mail account on Clinton's home server, gave her copies to the government.

The e-mails were not among the 55,000 pages of work-related messages that Clinton turned over to the agency in response to public records lawsuits seeking copies of her official correspondence.

In an audit released last month, the State Department's inspector general concluded Clinton and her team ignored clear internal guidance that her e-mail setup violated federal records-keeping standards and could have left sensitive material vulnerable to hackers.