Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Republicans’ beleaguered Benghazi Committee, told Politico the other day that things have been rough lately. “I would say in some ways these have been among the worst weeks of my life,” the conservative congressman said over the weekend.
That does not mean, however, that things are necessarily going to get better. Politico’s Josh Gerstein reported yesterday that Gowdy’s controversial panel appears to have accidentally released a CIA source’s name.
House Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy appears to have accidentally released the name of a CIA source in the midst of a back-and-forth with Democrats about how sensitive the information was and whether its presence in former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email account constituted a security breach.
The GOP-led panel scrambled soon after and blamed the State Department, though a Yahoo News report added, “The incident was especially awkward for GOP chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy because just two weeks ago he had sought to make an issue over Clinton’s handling” of an email that contained the CIA source’s name.
Yes, the irony certainly matters. Republicans on the Benghazi Committee are trying to make the case that Hillary Clinton was reckless when handling sensitive information, and while making the case, Republicans on the Benghazi Committee mishandled the exact same sensitive information.
And, of course, the timing matters, too – not only has the entire taxpayer-funded partisan exercise begun to unravel, but this is the week that GOP lawmakers will try to go after Clinton in an open-door hearing on Capitol Hill.
The New Republic’s Brian Beutler had a good piece yesterday drawing a comparison between this anti-Hillary Clinton committee and the related anti-Bill Clinton committees led by congressional Republicans in the 1990s.
The comparison became inescapable this weekend, when the top Democrat on the Benghazi committee revealed that its Republican chairman, Trey Gowdy, had fabricated a redaction to Clinton’s emails to make it look like she’d endangered a spy, and the CIA had busted her. Gowdy even mimicked intelligence community vernacular, designating the redaction as undertaken to protect “sources and methods,” without disclosing that he was the redactor or that the CIA had cleared the name he redacted for release.This flagrant misconduct has barely pierced the consciousness of the political scribes who have treated every selective Benghazi leak with as much credulity and legitimacy as lower-fanfare congressional investigations, even after their media peers have been burned—repeatedly—by intentionally deceptive leaks. Conservatives, too, are ignoring or brushing off the impropriety. But Benghazi committee errors are piling up so rapidly, and timed so impeccably for Hillary Clinton’s public testimony before the committee this Thursday, that it seems for once like Republicans might tamp down on the Hillary misdirection of their own volition, much as they did in the 1990s when a similarly unfocused obsession with the Clintons damaged their party.
Hillary Clinton has often been blessed by incompetent Republican foes. That the GOP’s Benghazi Committee began to implode in the weeks leading up to her testimony is a stroke of good fortune that a screenwriter might have seen as unrealistic.
And yet, here we are.