Almost ever since Trey Gowdy launched the House Select Committee on Benghazi, the White House and the State Department have complained about the fact that their investigation has still not concluded. Gowdy has repeatedly reminded everyone that the State Department has dragged its feet on complying with document requests and testimony, and that they would have finished long ago had State cooperated. Last night, Fox News’ James Rosen reported that Gowdy quietly arranged to redirect more than four million dollars to State to set up a compliance shop, using evacuated personnel from Yemen to staff some of the positions, in order to expedite the probe. Now the State Department refuses to account for the money:
The State Department missed its own target date last year for the establishment of a special unit to review Benghazi documents, documents obtained by Fox News show.
The previously unpublished documents, generated by the House select committee that is investigating the 2012 terror attacks, detail how Rep. Trey Gowdy, the panel’s Republican chairman from South Carolina, began working behind the scenes early last year to help the department secure over $4 million in “reprogrammed” funds set aside by Congress for such a unit. …
Yet the State Department, prompted by inquiries from Fox News, now acknowledges it missed that target date. “The Congressional Document Production unit began staffing up in mid-2015,” said State Department spokesman Mark Toner in an email late Thursday, “and is now fully operational.”
The records obtained by Fox News also show repeated refusals by Kerry’s aides, including Finer, to account for what happened to the appropriated funds when Gowdy’s staff made repeated inquiries about the matter back in mid-2015.
While the White House took potshots at the Select Committee, Gowdy was providing funding for cooperation that his panel didn’t receive. All of this, says one former House investigator, is emblematic of the Obama administration’s obstructionist response to Congressional oversight:
Washington-based attorney Mark Paoletta, who spent a decade as the Republican chief counsel to a House investigating subcommittee, told Fox News the Obama administration is “notorious” for “slow-rolling” investigative panels like the Benghazi committee. He cited Clinton’s private email server as evidence of this pattern.
“How can you seriously say that you’re being transparent,” Paoletta said in an interview with Fox News, “when the secretary of state is running a private server and has deleted over 30,000 of those documents before anyone even knows that it’s in existence?”
It’s worth pointing out that the existence of that server would never have come to light except for Gowdy’s House Select Committee on Benghazi. Presumably, the $4 million has now been used in a verifiable manner, since the State Department says that the compliance team is “fully operational.” Have they accounted to Congress about how those funds were specifically spent?