House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is in damage control mode following his suggestion that the Republican-led Benghazi committee was created for political reasons -- remarks that Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has seized on to discredit the investigation.
“The mission of the Select Committee on Benghazi is to find the truth -- period,” the California Republican said in a statement, doubling down on previous attempts to walk back his comments. “The integrity of Chairman Gowdy, the Committee and the work they’ve accomplished is beyond reproach. The serious questions Secretary Clinton faces are due entirely to her own decision to put classified information at risk and endanger our national security.”
His statement comes a day after the Democratic front-runner’s campaign released its first national television ad highlighting McCarthy’s comments tying the GOP-led House Benghazi Committee to a drop in Clinton’s political standing.
“The Republicans finally admit it,” a narrator is heard saying in the 30-second spot, which will begin airing on Tuesday. The video then plays McCarthy's now-infamous remark: “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable right? But we put together a Benghazi special Committee. What are her poll numbers today?”
After catching heat from his own party, McCarthy -- who is running to replace retiring House Speaker John Boehner -- backtracked, insisting that the committee's work is not political.
Boehner has also said the ad is an attempt by Clinton's campaign to draw attention from the investigation. “This is classic Clinton attempt to distract from her record of putting classified information at risk and jeopardizing our national security, all of which the FBI is investigating,” Emily Schillinger, a spokeswoman for Boehner, said in a statement.
Clinton is scheduled to testify before the House Benghazi Committee on Oct. 22. On Monday, during an interview with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie, the former secretary of state criticized the panel but stopped short of saying it should be disbanded.
“If they are going to have it still running, I’ll be there and I’m looking forward to answering questions about real things when I’m there and I’m looking forward to having a chance to explain everything we’ve done, everything that I asked to happen,” said Clinton. She added, however, that “It’s not appropriate what they have done from obviously their own admission.”