Ex-Benghazi Committee staffer drops Hillary bias claim

Compared to the hullabaloo created when former Benghazi Committee staffer Bradley Podliska filed a lawsuit that accused the committee of firing him because he wouldn't make Hillary Clinton the center of the investigation, the retraction of that charge has received little notice.

Podliska amended his lawsuit late last month that removed all references to Clinton. 


Attorneys for the Air Force Reserve major filed an amendment to his original claim in late February, striking the legal clauses that included his accusation that the panel’s investigation was increasingly focused on Clinton — and that he was dismissed for refusing to go along.

It's a significant change from his original assertion. Podliska had burst onto the scene last fall, arguing he was directed to pursue Clinton and not the security failures at the U.S. Benghazi compound — comments that stoked Democratic ire against the panel as he made a whirlwind tour of cable news networks.

Those claims had come at the worst possible time for the panel: just days before Clinton was set to testify before the committee and in the midst of a drumbeat of attacks on their credibility by Clinton allies. Democrats and pro-Clinton groups like Correct the Record trumpeted Podliska’s accusations for weeks, arguing he corroborated their theories that the panel was only intended to hurt the 2016 Democratic front-runner.

Podliska’s lawyers, reached by phone on Tuesday, did not tell POLITICO why the claims had been removed. But one of them, Peter Romer-Friedman, offered this statement: "We are now in active litigation, and like the Committee we will not be commenting on pending motions. We look forward to the truth coming out in a court of law."

The House Benghazi panel declined to comment for this story. But while the change may give GOP committee members a sense of vindication, it likely won't undo the reputational damage the panel suffered during the monsoon of criticism last October, when the whole country was tuned in to the high-stakes hearing with Clinton.

As any media outlet could tell you, a retraction always gets far less notice than the original accusation - especially if the charge is as sensational as this one. 

Every time something like this happens, I think back to the travails of former Reagan Labor Secretary Ray Donovan, who was smeared on trumped up charges of racketeering, and completely vindicated by being found not guilty. Donovan faced reporters after the trial and asked plaintively, "Where do I go to get my reputation back"?

The answer for Donovan and the Benghazi Committee; don't look for your reputation among your enemies who smeared you in the first place.