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Tempers Flare at Benghazi Committee Hearing

Republicans and Democrats on the House Select Committee on Benghazi are at odds about how the panel is handling the investigation into the 2012 terrorist attacks -- and the conflict was on full display at a hearing Tuesday.

The committee's top Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, charged at the group's third public hearing that Republicans, led by Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC), have been withholding key information from Democrats.

"I am saddened to report today that there are major, major problems with this Committee and its work," Cummings said in his opening statement Tuesday morning.

Cummings has released previously private emails from the five Democrats on the select committee to Gowdy in order to air their concerns.

"[O]ver the past eight months, Democrats have repeatedly been excluded from core components of the investigation, and we have been proceeding with no rules to prevent this from occurring in the future," Cummings wrote in a letter on January 23.

Republicans argue that there's no precedent for a requirement that sources meet with both parties on a congressional select committee.

"Chairman Gowdy will talk to Benghazi sources with or without the Democrats present just as they are welcome to talk to sources with or without Republicans present," Jamal D. Ware, the committee's Communications Director, said in a statement. "As [the Congressional Research Service] has noted, no congressional select committee has ever had a requirement that sources meet with both sides at the same time, and the Benghazi Committee is no exception."

Both sides voiced frustrations Tuesday with the slow pace of the committee's investigation. While Republicans criticized the State Department for lingering witness and document requests, Democrats accused their GOP counterparts of drawing out the investigation.

"This is not a political exercise for us," Gowdy shot back. "We're going to ratchet it up because I need access to the documents and the witnesses and we need to be able to conclude our work."