Republican members of the House and House Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy react after the election for the Speaker of the House was thrown into chaos on Capitol Hill, Oct. 8, 2015. 
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty

GOP’s Benghazi Committee just keeps going (and going)

Remember the House Republicans’ Benghazi Committee? It was nearly six months ago that the GOP-led panel held a farcical, 11-hour hearing with Hillary Clinton, which only reinforced suspicions that the committee served no legitimate purpose.
That was October of last year. Believe it or not, the investigation still exists, and the panel’s Democratic minority issued a statement yesterday announcing the committee’s newest milestone.
[Thursday] marks the 700th day since the authorization of the Select Committee on Benghazi. During this time, Republicans have discovered no new evidence that contradicts the key findings of the previous bipartisan and independent investigations.
“As House Republicans drag on their taxpayer-funded partisan attacks on Secretary Clinton closer and closer to the election, their actions have shockingly become even more partisan, secretive, and dysfunctional,” said Ranking Member Elijah Cummings.
I can appreciate why these totals may seem abstract, but to put this in context, the 9/11 Commission, investigating every possible angle to the worst terrorist attack in the history of the country, worked for 604 days and created a bipartisan report endorsed by each of the commission’s members.
The Benghazi committee is now on its 701st day, and even some congressional Republicans have admitted the panel is a partisan exercise, making it that much more difficult to justify its prolonged existence.
Rep. Trey Gowdy’s (R-S.C.) Benghazi panel has also lasted longer than the investigations into the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the assassination of President Kennedy, the Iran-Contra scandal, Church Committee, and the Watergate probe.
What’s more, following up on our previous coverage, the Benghazi investigation, which has cost American taxpayers over $6.5 million, isn’t done. There is no end date in mind, and there’s every reason to believe GOP lawmakers will just keep it going, probably with this year’s presidential election in mind, though I suppose it’s possible that it will simply continue forever.
Just so we’re clear, though I find the Republicans’ Benghazi Committee ridiculous, I’m not suggesting the deadly terrorist attack in Libya, which left four Americans dead, is unworthy of investigation. Just the opposite is true – Congress had a responsibility to determine what happened and take steps to prevent similar attacks in the future.
But therein lies the point: seven separate congressional committees investigated the Benghazi attack before the Select Committee was even created. This was already one of the most scrutinized events in American history. Republican lawmakers, however, didn’t quite care for what the evidence told them, so they effectively concluded, “Maybe an eighth committee will tell us something the other seven committees didn’t.”
That, alas, was over 700 days ago. If there’s a coherent defense for this exercise, I can’t think of it.