Trey Gowdy, chairman of the Benghazi Select Committee, has harsh words for some of his fellow Republicans: “Shut up” about the investigation of the 2012 attacks in Libya.
The South Carolina representative said Sunday that he strongly disputes the claim that the committee has targeted Hillary Clinton, which Republican representatives Kevin McCarthy and Richard Hanna, and former committee member Maj. Bradley Podliska have suggested in recent interviews.
“I get that there’s a presidential campaign going on,” Gowdy said in an interview on CBS’s “Face The Nation.”
“I have told my own Republican colleagues and friends, shut up talking about things that you don’t know anything about. And unless you’re on the committee, you have no idea what we’ve done, why we’ve done it and what new facts we have found,” he said of the investigation.
McCarthy said in September that Clinton’s declining poll numbers were a result of the Benghazi committee. Two weeks later, Hanna backed McCarthy, saying, “there was a big part of this investigation that was designed to go after people and an individual, Hillary Clinton.”
Podliska also came forward claiming that the committee is not carrying out a non-partisan investigation, and said he was fired because he had not solely focused on Clinton. He is now filing a lawsuit against the committee.
Clinton, who is set to testify with the committee on Thursday, jumped on these claims, agreeing that the committee has unfairly focused on her.
“I think it’s pretty clear that – whatever they might have thought they were doing – that it ended up becoming a partisan arm of the Republican National Committee with an overwhelming focus on trying to, as they admitted, drive down my poll numbers,” she said.
Gowdy said Clinton is one of many witnesses the committee has spoken to.
“We have already talked to 50 people not named Clinton,” he said. “We’re going to talk to another couple of dozen not named Clinton.”
Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, who serves as the ranking member of the Benghazi committee and also appeared on “Face The Nation” on Sunday, responded to that statement. He said while there are have been many witnesses other than Clinton, the committee has yet to interview the heads of the CIA, the Joint Chiefs or the Department of Defense.
“Most of [the witnesses] were state department people or they were Hillary Clinton’s former aides, people that worked in her campaign, speech writers,” Cummings said. “So when [Gowdy] talks about these 50 witnesses, we still have been zeroing in on Hillary Clinton.”
David Axelrod, President Barak Obama’s former senior advisor, also commented on Gowdy’s remarks on “Face the Nation” on Sunday. He said the pressure is not as strong on Clinton because of this “circus.”
“There are stakes for her, but they’ve been reduced by this kind of circus around this committee,” he said. “Now there’s a lot of pressure on Chairman Gowdy to prove that this whole thing isn’t merely a political escapade.”
While Cummings said Clinton does hold some responsibility, the Democrats on the committee will be releasing a report that shows that she is not responsible for some of the things Republicans are blaming her for, including an order to stand down during the attack.
Cummings said the committee has failed the families of the four victims by making the investigation political and not focusing on how to prevent another attack in the future.
“At some point we gotta move from politics to policy,” he said.