Gowdy: Benghazi committee has new records, testimony — and “enormous progress”; Update: CIA records?

posted at 2:01 pm on February 19, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

Update: One source directed me to a Fox News interview yesterday with Gowdy for the source of the “crucial national security records” referenced in his statement. “You will hear new names that no one else has heard,” Gowdy said. “Even this past week, we got information from the CIA that no other committee of Congress has ever bothered to ask for or receive.” Hmmmmm.

Original post follows …


Looks like we may find out sooner rather than later what the House Select Committee on Benghazi has found about the attack that left four Americans dead, dozens more waiting for help, and the policies that left them vulnerable in the first place. In a statement yesterday, chair Trey Gowdy announced that the committee should be able to “release a report as soon as possible,” and described how this probe has succeeded in finding a much broader set of data and testimony than other previous investigations. Apparently, a very recent development has fueled Gowdy’s optimism, emphasis mine (via Cortney O’Brien):

The Select Committee has made enormous progress this month. We interviewed a top State Department official, Patrick Kennedy, and after months and months of quiet negotiations with the White House, we finally were able to question both Susan Rice and Ben Rhodes. In addition, just last week, the committee gained access to crucial national security records we sought for nearly a year – records no other investigation has seen. While there are still witnesses to talk to and documents to review, these significant breakthroughs are big wins that will help the committee complete the most comprehensive investigation into what happened before, during and after the Benghazi terrorist attacks, and release a report as soon as possible.

What, pray tell, might those records be? And why did it take more than a year to gain access to them? The first impulse is to think this refers to Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, but those got turned over to State a year ago, and have been publicly released for months. Presumably, Congress got an advance look at those. The House formed the committee after the White House stiffed them on a subpoena for e-mails from Rhodes, but that was around two years ago. Why did it take so long for the committee to access these records, and why were they not made available immediately?

As teases go, that seems … pretty significant. Gowdy’s reference to them as “significant breakthroughs” raises the stakes, too. Clearly he envisions a report that tells a much different story than the whitewash that the Accountability Review Board delivered in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. Gowdy also emphasized the breadth of the Select Committee probe in comparison to that and other prior investigations:

Prior to the Select Committee’s investigation, no congressional committee had interviewed Susan Rice or Ben Rhodes about Benghazi. … So far, 59 of the 75 witnesses interviewed by the committee had never before been interviewed by Congress. The Select Committee is also the first and only Benghazi investigation to include roughly 70,000 new pages of documents – including the Secretary of State’s emails – and the first to even request access to Ambassador Chris Stevens’ emails.

Two weeks ago, Gowdy had made similar observations. The committee managed to finally get Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, and even Patrick Kennedy on the record, a feat that the so-called Accountability Review Board didn’t even bother to attempt. At that time, Gowdy sounded confident, but did not predict when the probe would end:

Yesterday’s announcement brought about the usual back-and-forth between Republicans and Democrats:

“Republicans are desperate to rehabilitate their image, and yet they continue to drag out the committee’s tenure well into the 2016 election year‎ with no end in sight,” a spokesman for committee Democrats said in a statement. “The simple truth is that the facts haven’t changed, and the core findings of the many previous investigations have stood up to the repeated and wasteful scrutiny.”

A Republican committee aide blasted the announcement.

“It’s very sad that the do-nothing Democrats on the committee would actually brag about how long they’ve obstructed this thorough, fact-centered investigation,” the aide said in an emailed statement. “Their deceptive announcement today is further proof they are focused solely on playing politics, undermining the committee’s work, and helping their endorsed candidate for president. It’s also bizarre for Democrats to claim they will release transcripts that Chairman Gowdy has always said he plans to release with the final report.”

Well, one side is certainly setting up their supporters for a very big let-down when this report emerges. With as many unanswered questions about the lack of security, the lack of response, and the necessity of that station in an area that our allies had long abandoned still left hanging, though, Democrats had better hope that they can find a squirrel or two to distract people when the report finally emerges.

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