If House Republican leaders hoped a brand new, partisan investigation of the 2012 Benghazi attack would help unify the party, the plan backfired spectacularly.
GOP lawmakers are divided among themselves about whether the select committee's investigation trumps the other committees' investigations. They're divided over whether to exploit the terrorism for campaign fundraising .They're divided over strategy and tactics, some of which appear to be inadvertently helping
the White House. They're divided about whether the whole endeavor is poised to backfire
In an amusing twist, the Obama administration appears eager to take advantage
of Republicans' intra-party confusion.
Secretary of State John Kerry will testify June 12 before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee -- but, the State Department says he won't be going before the new special select committee on Benghazi. In a letter to Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, the State Department said Kerry is open to testifying about Benghazi in June.
When House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) created the select committee -- the eighth congressional committee to look into the deadly 2012 attack -- he intended it to be the
investigation, superseding the others
Issa, however, doesn't care, and has made it clear he intends to ignore his party's leadership by continuing with his own probe.
And that in turn left Kerry, who's already testified at length about Benghazi, with a choice: answering House Republicans' questions or answering a different group of House Republicans' questions.
As of the holiday weekend, the Secretary of State has decided he simply doesn't have time to answer the same questions from the same chamber over and over again, so he'll talk to Issa's committee -- and if members of the select committee want the same information, they can read the transcripts.
This is exactly the kind of situation GOP officials hoped to avoid, but since the party clearly doesn't have its ducks in a row, and there is no real leadership among House Republicans, it's become a free-for-all.
By all appearances, Kerry is keenly aware of this. Indeed, his agreement to testify on June 12 before the Oversight Committee appears to be pouring salt on the GOP's wound.
Tempers flared anew this week when Mr. Issa revealed a classified email that the State Department sent to YouTube during the attacks, warning of the ramifications of an anti-Islamic video it was hosting. To critics, Mr. Issa was refusing to step away from the inquiry and let Mr. Gowdy take over. Worse still, the revelation bolstered the White House's contention that national security officials believed that the attacks were prompted by the video, and that they were not using it as a pretext to play down the assaults' ties to Al Qaeda.
In context, "tempers flared" among Republicans in large because one of their own accidentally released accurate information that helps prove the GOP's conspiracy theories are wrong.
It was the latest in a series of reminders that these investigations are about many things, but a search for truth isn't one of them.