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

The end of the Republicans’ Benghazi Committee

In July, Republicans on the House Select Committee on Benghazi released a report, confirming what we already knew about the deadly terrorist attack in Libya four years ago, but the controversial panel didn’t officially wrap up its work. In fact, it continued to seek information about the attack even after its chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), declared, “Our committee’s work is done.”

This week, however, the partisan committee, which failed in its efforts to find information damaging to Hillary Clinton, “quietly shut down” and will exist no longer.
“History will view the Benghazi Select Committee as a prime example of how not to conduct a congressional investigation as it goes down as one of the longest, least productive, and most partisan taxpayer-funded investigations in history,” Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the committee’s top Democrat, said in a statement Monday.

“Republicans voted on this partisan report five months ago, but delayed filing it and completing the Committee until after the election,” Cummings said. “Republicans promised a process that was fair and bipartisan, but the American people got exactly the opposite.”
This really is the end of a cringe-worthy process. The GOP’s Benghazi panel, duplicating the work that had already been done by six other congressional committees, spent millions of taxpayer dollars chasing down bizarre conspiracy theories, asking questions that had already been answered, and pulling together evidence that had already been exhaustively reviewed.

The result was a committee that was needlessly partisan, needlessly secretive, and ultimately pointless. Even Republicans who hoped the Benghazi Committee would produce anti-Clinton fodder were left to wonder about the point of this lengthy and unproductive exercise.

Indeed, this probe was among the longest in American history, and when it comes to congressional scrutiny of specific individual events – Pearl Harbor, 9/11, the Kennedy Assassination, Watergate, etc. – the Benghazi investigation was the longest ever.

Why does this matter now? A couple of reasons, actually.

First, it’s now obvious that years of far-right claims about Benghazi were wrong. Republicans invested years and vast resources to prove otherwise, but they failed spectacularly. The next time your crazy uncle sends you a weird email about Benghazi, you can remind him that GOP lawmakers tried to prove him right, but just couldn’t find any evidence to bolster the nonsense.

Second, if the Benghazi attack was worthy of seven congressional investigations, including a special select committee, to understand precisely what happened, then alleged Russian interference in the American presidential election deserves at least some attention on Capitol Hill.