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GOP's Benghazi Committee starts to unravel

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)
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. 

Senior Republican officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing confidential conversations, said that [House Speaker John Boehner] had long been suspicious of the administration’s handling of the attacks and that Mrs. Clinton’s emails gave him a way to keep the issue alive and to cause political problems for her campaign.

Is that so.
 
Taken together, we now have House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) characterizing the committee's work as an election scheme to undermine Hillary Clinton; we have a former Republican staffer for the committee complaining that the committee's sole interest was in tearing down Hillary Clinton; and now we have senior Republican officials acknowledging that GOP leaders directed the Benghazi committee to focus on email server management -- instead of, you know, Benghazi -- in order to "cause political problems" for Hillary Clinton.
 
At this point, even the most rabid Republican partisans are going to have a hard time justifying the committee's continued existence. Why should American taxpayers continue to fund such a farcical exercise? (Remember, "because there's an election coming up" is not an acceptable answer.)
 
Slate's Jamelle Bouie explained that the entire investigation has now been "thoroughly discredited as a partisan sham," adding the committee's unraveling calls into question the legitimacy of the Clinton email "controversy" itself.
 
Making matters just a little worse, MSNBC's Ari Melber reported yesterday that the Republican pushback against Todd Podliska, the former Benghazi Committee staffer, may have crossed legal lines.

The legal battle between the House Select Committee on Benghazi and its former investigator, Todd Podliska, escalated Monday afternoon, when Podliska’s lawyers alleged that Chairman Trey Gowdy violated government confidentiality rules and federal law in responding to allegations made by Podliska. “Both Representative Gowdy and the committee have clearly violated terms of the confidentiality agreement and the Congressional Accountability Act,” said Peter Romer-Friedman, one of Podliska’s attorneys, to MSNBC on Monday afternoon. The lawyers allege that Gowdy and the committee improperly released confidential information regarding an employment dispute with Podliska, in an effort to discredit him.

A Benghazi Committee spokesperson denied the allegations, telling NBC News’ Luke Russert, “The ludicrousness of a former employee who has spread himself across the news media over the weekend complaining about confidentiality ought to be obvious. The Committee will vigorously defend itself against these and any other false claims and has nothing further to add at this time.”
 
Our pals at "All In with Chris Hayes" had more on the story last night.