At last count, two congressional Republicans and a notable GOP staffer have admitted that their party’s Benghazi Committee is a partisan political exercise intended to undermine Hillary Clinton. The pressure’s starting to get to the panel’s chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who said yesterday that Republicans not on the committee need to “shut up.”
But as Clinton herself prepares to testify this week, the political conditions surrounding the controversial panel appear to be going from bad to worse. The Huffington Post reported yesterday:
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, alleged in an Oct. 7 letter that Clinton used her private email account to release the name of a CIA source on Libya. An email sent by adviser Sidney Blumenthal that she then forwarded to a member of her staff reportedly contained the name of that source, which would have suggested that Clinton used her private email server to disseminate classified information.But on Sunday, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the committee’s ranking member, revealed that the CIA investigated the email and found that the information was not classified.
Cummings’ letter explained, “The CIA [on Saturday] informed both the Republican and Democratic staffs of the Select Committee that they do not consider the information you highlighted in your letter to be classified. Specifically, the CIA confirmed that the State Department consulted with the CIA on this production, the CIA reviewed these documents, and the CIA made no redactions to protect classified information.”
Cummings asked that Gowdy apologize for making a bogus anti-Clinton claim, though the former Secretary of State probably shouldn’t hold her breath.
This flap came on the heels of another partisan political dispute on Friday, when the Benghazi Committee brought in Huma Abedin, Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff, to testify for no apparent reason. Gowdy didn’t even show up for the hearing, preferring instead to go to Utah for a fundraiser.
This was followed by another dust-up on “Meet the Press” yesterday, when Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) tried to repeat a falsehood, only to have Andrea Mitchell fact-check him in real time.
POMPEO: Well, we have focused on the central failure. We have focused on the security issues. And we will continue, you’ll see lots of questions about that on Thursday. But let me speak to Mr. Blumenthal. Because directly to the security issue, we see now that former Secretary Clinton relied on Mr. Blumenthal for most of her intelligence. That if she wants to rely–MITCHELL: That is factually not true.POMPEO: No, it is absolutely true.MITCHELL: Relied on Mr. Blumenthal for most of her intelligence?POMPEO: Ms. Mitchell, take a look at the email trails and you will see–MITCHELL: That’s just – I cover the State Department. That is just factually not correct.
For quite a while, Republicans on the Benghazi Committee were accustomed to making suspect claims and getting away with it. As the GOP’s Benghazi Committee has unraveled, and its credibility has effectively evaporated, the usual falsehoods are facing new scrutiny.
Gowdy, meanwhile, sat down with Politico, which published a sympathetic piece highlighting the far-right congressman’s disappointment with recent developments. The article stated, simply as fact, “Gowdy worked behind closed doors for 18 months in an effort to keep the committee’s work out of the political fray.”
It’s hard to believe Politico would even publish such a sentence. Not only has Gowdy’s panel leaked the committee’s work, precisely to keep the story in the middle of the political fray, it’s done so by feeding tidbits to Politico.
Postscript: Explaining that GOP’s Benghazi Committee’s work is “at odds with its purpose,” Vox’s Jonathan Allen makes a compelling case that lawmakers have a responsibility to shut down this ridiculous exercise: “It would be smart politically for Republicans to dissolve the panel before it helps Clinton and hurts them any more. But more important, the committee should be disbanded because it is a threat to the effectiveness of a very important congressional check on executive power. The viability of that tool, the select committee, should be preserved – even though it’s being abused now.”