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Facing Clinton, Trey Gowdy hits back at accusations that probe is witch-hunt

Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, addressed accusations that his panel has become a political witch hunt as he began a highly-anticipated interview of Hillary Clinton Thursday.

Gowdy said questions in the hearing would focus solely on finding "the truth about request for additional security" and "the truth about where and why our military was positioned as it was," among other things.

The South Carolina Republican promised his committee was most concerned with determining how four Americans, including Amb. Chris Stevens, were killed in an attack that was then falsely blamed on a spontaneous response to a YouTube clip.

Gowdy said Clinton's exclusive use of a private email server, which was uncovered by his committee, was only important in that it prevented the panel from obtaining a complete record of the State Department's internal communications about the attack.

"Your emails are no less or no more important than the emails of anybody else," Gowdy said.

The State Department delivered a fourth batch of Stevens' emails Tuesday. The committee, which now has roughly 7,000 pages of his emails, was the first of more than a half dozen congressional probes to request the ambassador's emails.

Gowdy also preempted Clinton's most likely defense, one she has employed in the past: the findings of the internal Accountability Review Board that probed the attacks in the immediate aftermath.

"You will hear a lot today about the Accountability Review Board," he said. "But when you hear about the ARB, you should also know the State Department leadership handpicked the members of the ARB."

Gowdy dismissed concerns that the select committee, as the eighth congressional committee to probe the attack, was simply rehashing a raid that has already been thoroughly examined.

"It should make you wonder why those investigations failed to interview so many witnesses," Gowdy said, noting his panel has conducted interviews with dozens of new witnesses. "How did they miss Amb. Stevens' emails? How did they miss Secretary Clinton's emails?"