When House Republicans insisted on forming a select committee to investigate the failures that led up to and resulted from the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, one might have expected Hillary Clinton to shrug it off. She famously shouted at Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) during a Senate hearing on the State Department’s actions surrounding the deaths of four Americans, “What difference at this point does it make?” It makes a big difference to Hillary now, enough so that her aides pressured Nancy Pelosi into full participation in the select committee, according to Politico:
Hillary Clinton’s world was so worried about a Republican investigation of the Benghazi attacks, they sent a message to House Democrats: We need backup.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) publicly considered boycotting the panel, an idea that Clinton supporters feared would leave the potential 2016 candidate exposed to the enemy fire of House Republicans.
So Clinton emissaries launched a back channel campaign, contacting several House Democratic lawmakers and aides to say they’d prefer Democrats participate, according to sources familiar with the conversations. Pelosi’s staff said they have not heard from Clinton’s camp. …
Clinton and her allies know from experience the kind of damage an emboldened Republican House committee can inflict.
Politico’s Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer even broach the idea of a Clinton appearance at a committee hearing, although one has to assume she’d work hard to avoid that kind of trap. No matter how well Clinton does, getting hauled in front of a committee investigating a major catastrophe like Benghazi cannot help one’s political prospects; the only way to win is not to play at all. It’s going to be difficult to avoid, though, as the issue of facility security and especially the unusual waivers came directly to her desk.
Gowdy gave a strong hint that he’d call Clinton to testify:
Asked whether Clinton will [be] brought to Capitol Hill, Gowdy said, “without specific reference to any individual, if someone has knowledge surrounding a relevant fact, I would expect the committee to talk to them.”
“You’re a smart guy, do you think she has knowledge surrounding any relevant facts?” Gowdy said.
That is why Team Hillary wants Democrats on the panel — and Democrats with at least a modicum of gravitas. It does Hillary no good to have Alan Grayson tossing softballs at her, and possibly some harm if Grayson leaves his clown nose on for the exercise. She will need Democrats that carry some weight and respect to help her bolster her narratives when Republicans rip them to shreds, especially on the strategy of ignoring the danger signs that were all flashing red in Libya for months in order to maintain the pretense that State and White House policy in Libya had been a smashing success. That’s why the consulate was left all but undefended, and why the military hadn’t been properly mobilized on the anniversary of 9/11.
Hillary can’t afford to have her incompetence and venality exposed by this House select committee. And that’s the difference at this point it makes to have Democrats as backup on the panel.