The chair of the House committee to investigate the Benghazi attacks has written an op-ed portraying the panel’s work as fair and focused on the facts—the latest effort by Republicans to push back against ever-louder Democratic claims that it’s a political witch-hunt aimed at damaging Hillary Clinton.
Writing in USA Today, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said the committee has interviewed 41 witnesses no other committee has talked to, and reviewed 50,000 pages of documents.
“The American people will judge the Select Committee on Benghazi on our actions,” Gowdy wrote, “not the words of others unfamiliar with our work.”
That was a reference to comments made last week by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, that seemed to say the committee was designed to inflict political damage on Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic potential nomination.
“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee, what are her numbers today?” McCarthy told Fox News. “Her numbers are dropping, why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened.”
Democrats have pounced on those comments, even using them to call for the committee to be disbanded—a position embraced this week by The New York Times editorial board. McCarthy’s remarks badly undermined the committee at a crucial moment, when it’s preparing to grill Clinton herself later this month.
In response, Republicans have gone into overdrive to assure anyone who will listen that the Benghazi panel is designed only to investigate the attacks of September 2012, which killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya. McCarthy himself has made various attempts to apologize for and walk back his comments, and Speaker John Boehner also has tried to down-play them.
Gowdy seems to still bear a grudge against McCarthy—who Thursday morning announced he’d abandon his bid to succeed Boehner as House speaker.
“Yes, he’s apologized as many times as a human can apologize,” Gowdy told The Washington Post. “It doesn’t change it. It doesn’t fix it.”