Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., leaves a closed-door Republican strategy meeting at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, May 7, 2014.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Trey Gowdy’s embarrassing start

On Tuesday, the House Republican leadership formally announced it’s chosen Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) to lead the latest in a series of Benghazi committee investigations. On Wednesday, Gowdy made a “telling slip.”
Asked by MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough about the possibility that his panel’s work would continue into the 2016 election campaign, Gowdy replied that “if an administration is slow-walking document production, I can’t end a trial simply because the defense won’t cooperate.”
 
A trial? And the Obama administration is the defense? So much for that “serious investigation” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) promised; his new chairman intends to play prosecutor, proving the administration’s guilt to the jury – in this case, the public.
It was no small admission. Publicly, GOP leaders insist their election-year charade is actually a credible search for the facts, wherever they may lead. They’re going into this process, not on a partisan witch hunt, but as responsible public officials. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) assured reporters this week that this is going to be “a serious investigation.”
 
Except Gowdy accidentally told the truth on national television – he’s already convinced, before the process even starts, that the White House is guilty of wrongdoing, and the far-right congressman believes it’s his job to prosecute administration officials.
 
In other words, Gowdy effectively admitted that everything his own party is saying about the select committee is wrong.
 
Making matters considerably worse, the South Carolina Republican has not only prejudged the matter he hasn’t started investigating yet, he also seems badly confused about the basics of the Benghazi story itself.
 
Igor Bobic explained that Gowdy said this week he has three main questions:  (1) Why was security lacking during the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the U.S.? (2) Why weren’t military units moving to support consulate personnel? (3) Why were references to “terrorist” and “attacks” edited out of the Obama administration’s talking points?
 
This is genuinely bizarre. Over the course of the last 20 months, the attacks in Benghazi have been thoroughly investigated, repeatedly, by a variety of entities. And as Bobic added, if Gowdy paid even casual attention to current events, he’d realize the answers to his questions are already readily available.
Gowdy has promised to bring a no-nonsense, “prosecutor’s zeal” to finding the answers and in examining the Obama administration’s handling of the attack. He has insisted he’s not interested in rehashing previous investigations by Congress or in “whether the appropriate questions were asked in the past.”
 
But the questions he’s asking now were asked in the past. And answered, too. 
 
The congressman likely disagrees with those answers. But in his recent interviews, he hasn’t acknowledged that they exist.
If the congressman found himself struggling to keep up with the details shortly after the attack itself, it’d be easier to understand. But it’s been nearly two years – Gowdy has had plenty of time to get up to speed, especially if, as he claims, he’s taking these questions seriously.
 
Making matters slightly worse, Gowdy added on msnbc yesterday morning, in reference to developments in the region in the fall of 2012, “Well, how many people were harmed in the Middle East in that time period? The second goal or third goal of Ben Rhodes’ memo was to bring countries to justice for harming our citizens. What other country could they be talking about? I mean what else was being discussed after September 11, 2012 other than Benghazi?”
 
As Brian Beutler explained, Gowdy doesn’t seem to understand the basics of the matter he’s investigating: “[I]t’s frightening how likely it is that the chairman of the Benghazi committee isn’t intentionally misleading here, but has actually written the non-Benghazi events of September 11, 2012 and the days thereafter out of existence in his mind.”
 
Michael Morell, the former acting deputy director of the CIA, told Jake Tapper yesterday that Gowdy also “has a number of his facts wrong.”
 
What a polite way of putting it.
 
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Trey Gowdy's embarrassing start