— John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) May 9, 2014
Facts are neither Republican nor Democrat. While our fellow citizens are free to draw varying conclusions and inferences from the facts, surely there can be consensus that every relevant fact must be uncovered.
There are still witnesses whose testimony has not been heard. Just last week, we learned the administration has withheld relevant documents from Congress, despite a subpoena request. Some produced documents are so heavily redacted as to be meaningless. The select committee should strive to uncover every relevant witness, document or other piece of evidence so our fellow citizens can know the facts and the full truth.
“May justice be done, though the heavens fall.” That adage governed my time as a prosecutor in state and federal court, and it would serve us well as we uncover the truth about Benghazi.
The hottest competition in Washington this week is among House Republicans vying for a seat on the Benghazi kangaroo court, also known as the Select House Committee to Inflate a Tragedy Into a Scandal. Half the House has asked to “serve” on the committee, which is understandable since it’s the perfect opportunity to avoid any real work while waving frantically to right-wing voters stomping their feet in the grandstand.
They won’t pass a serious jobs bill, or raise the minimum wage, or reform immigration, but House Republicans think they can earn their pay for the rest of the year by exposing nonexistent malfeasance on the part of the Obama administration. On Thursday, they voted to create a committee to spend “such sums as may be necessary” to conduct an investigation of the 2012 attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The day before, they voted to hold in contempt Lois Lerner, the former Internal Revenue Service official whom they would love to blame for the administration’s crackdown on conservative groups, if only they could prove there was a crackdown, which they can’t, because there wasn’t.
Both actions stem from the same impulse: a need to rouse the most fervent anti-Obama wing of the party and keep it angry enough to deliver its donations and votes to Republicans in the November elections. For a while it seemed as if the Affordable Care Act would perform that role, but Republicans ran into a problem when the country began to realize that it was not destroying American civilization but in fact helping millions of people.
Clyburn doesn’t have a problem with GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy, though. “I know Gowdy very well,” he told the Washington Examiner. “I’m against the thing, so, it ain’t got nothing to do with Gowdy. I’m against doing it, I don’t care who is chairing it, I’m against it. So, Gowdy’s got nothing to do with my position.”
“An evil tree can’t bear good fruit,” Clyburn concluded.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., who serves with Gowdy on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said that he likes Gowdy but expressed a little more uncertainty about whether he would run a fair process.
“I don’t know,” Cummings said outside the House chamber. “I like Gowdy, I like him a lot. And, I’ve only seen him in a prosecutorial role, so I don’t know.”
While virtually all Democrats are united in opposing the formation of the committee, which will investigate the deaths of four Americans including ambassador Chris Stevens, rank-and-file Democrats argued during a closed-door meeting Wednesday leadership’s inclination to boycott the committee would be a mistake…
“I think it would be very valuable for people to see us fighting, particularly a fight I know we can win. The other side on this is clearly acting politically and they do not have a leg to stand on and I say that as someone who has spent hearing after hearing on Benghazi,” Rep. Jim Himes, a member of the House Intelligence committee, told BuzzFeed. “I think if we had a talented team of thoughtful, articulate members, we could draw a huge contrast between a nakedly political, fact-less other side,” added Himes, who is one of several members who has raised the issue during recent meetings with leadership…
“You know, I tend to side with [Maryland Rep.] Elijah Cummings, who said you’d make something illegitimate seem fair, but at the same time he knows that if we leave our people in there unprotected they will be bludgeoned,” Cleaver said. “I probably lean a little more toward being in the room.”
Pelosi wants Democrats to have a say in subpoenas, access to documents and depositions. Boehner’s staff says they have made fair concessions, and will include Democrats in the process. But Republicans are not going to give Democrats veto power over who they call to testify…
It’s unclear how Democrats will proceed. Pelosi has weighed completely boycotting the committee, appointing a handful of Democrats or tapping lawmakers to fill the five seats that she is allotted. She first spoke to Boehner on the floor, then met with her leadership team and followed that up by sending a letter to Boehner Friday afternoon saying she wants to work with him to change the committee’s procedures…
Some senior Democrats — like Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.)— have made the case behind closed doors that their boycott would highlight what they consider GOP overreach. Others, like Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), argue the party needs to be present to fight back…
In a Democratic leadership meeting Friday morning, lawmakers were divided on whether they should participate. For example, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) suggested Democrats participate, while Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) advocated a boycott.
There is no way on earth the Democrats should lend this committee the least bit of legitimacy. They absolutely must boycott this absurd, insane, sickening, repulsive, shameful, and at the same time shame-less circus.
Benghazi is and has been for some time a witch hunt that perverts all notions of democratic accountability and that obviously carries one purpose and one purpose only—the humiliation or worse of as many Democrats as possible, preferably the big cheeses (Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton). Ever since Watergate, the Republicans have wanted one of their own, one in which they’re the good guys, forcing a Democratic president to resign in disgrace. They tried it with Bill Clinton, but he just kept getting more and more popular as more and more Americans came to see the Republicans’ coup d’etat, their attempt to criminalize errant but perfectly legal behavior, for what it was—an affair…
Gowdy’s antics on Issa’s committee are legendary among Democratic Hill staffers. He’s as big a blowhard as sits on that committee. Read Simon Malloy’s Salon piece from Tuesday, which just destroys Gowdy and also ought to worry any sane American. He developed the habit during these recent hearings of posting his cross-examinations on YouTube. During an IRS “scandal” hearing in which he rebuked Lois Lerner, he even added some heroic background music. He also suggested to Greta Van Susteren that the Obama administration was withholding evidence from Congress, and when she asked him if we’d see it, said: “Yeah. Well, you know, I can’t prove to what I don’t know. I don’t know whether the documents have been destroyed.”
And that is this sleazy rabbit hole in its most perfect summation.
The Benghazi select committee, nascent as it is, is already disappointing those members of the political class who predicted it would become a Republican self-inflicted wound. Far from uniting Democrats around the notion that the White House is being subjected to a witch-hunt, the decision to convene a select committee appears to be tearing the Democrats in Congress apart.
“I admit, Benghazi is to progressives what climate change is to conservatives: No matter how much the right wing shrieks about it, and purports to have new evidence of wrongdoing, we don’t believe it,” wrote Salon editor Joan Walsh this week displaying a unique degree of candor and self-awareness. “The difference is, progressives are right.”…
“Pelosi’s allies appear split,” Politico’s Sherman and Lauren French reported on Friday. “Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) sent a letter to colleagues Thursday evening suggesting that just one Democrat should sit on the panel. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), a veteran of congressional investigations, signaled he wants multiple members of his party on the committee.”
In response to the lack of unity, Pelosi marshaled all the sarcasm she could ooze at a Friday morning meeting with the members of her caucus. “Thanks a lot for giving me leverage over the last couple of days,” she scolded.
If the rest of the administration had followed the military’s example, the Benghazi controversy would likely be over by now…
First, there was the attempt to blame the attack on outrage over an anti-Muslim Internet video — a claim that was quickly discounted by everyone who has investigated the matter…
Then the administration failed to make available a single witness who was actually on the ground in Benghazi the night of the attack.
And recently, of course, Republican complaints that the administration has withheld documents were dramatically confirmed by revelations of emails the administration failed to produce to Congress.
The administration’s stance long ago exhausted whatever patience existed among Hill Republicans. Members are “really tired of getting jerked around,” another aide said recently. That’s a succinct explanation for the creation of the new select committee.
But it didn’t have to be that way. The rest of the administration could have cooperated like the Defense Department. If it had, Washington would be talking about something else now. Instead, the fight goes on.
“Republicans in general did not seem to have this appetite to find out what went wrong when incorrect intelligence was used to push the war in Iraq,” Tapper observed. “Do you see why some people might say, ‘Why is this more important than that war which resulted in the deaths of more than 4,500 American soldiers and countless innocent Iraqis?”
Gowdy appeared not to answer that question, and repeated a line in which he had used earlier in the day on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “At the end of the day, you may say he’s not very smart, but no one’s going to say that I’m not fair,” Gowdy asserted. “This is not going to be a kangaroo court, and if I thought it were I would not have participated.”
MEGYN KELLY: Do you think it’s worth the risk?
KRAUTHAMMER: If you were doing this purely as a partisan matter, if you were simply a consultant brought in to tell the leadership of the Republicans is it worth doing this for political reasons to help you at the election, I would say no. On the on the other hand, I’m an American and I believe in truth.