Jamal Ware, communications director for the committee, said directly on Monday that Gowdy would continue to allow GOP-only meetings with witnesses, since Democrats are allowed to do the same, and no select committee has ever prevented single-party meetings.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) on Monday defended the right of Republicans to hear testimony from people with knowledge of the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, without any Democrats present.

Democrats have been complaining since last year that Republicans on Gowdy’s Select Committee on Benghazi are holding meetings without any Democrats present, and say those meetings show the committee is tilted unfairly against Democrats. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the committee, wrote to Gowdy last week to complain again.

Some of those complaints seemed likely to spill into a Tuesday morning hearing at the committee.

But in a Monday letter, Gowdy implied that Republicans need to meet with witnesses on their own in some cases, because some of these witnesses may not be as open with Democrats present. He said broad Democratic opposition to the very existence of the committee is a factor that could make it harder to investigate Benghazi with Democrats present, since some witnesses are still officials in the Obama administration.

Gowdy charged Democrats with arguing that Republicans are politicizing the Benghazi investigation, but suggested that Cummings’ letters themselves could create more reason for some witnesses to withhold testimony.

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