Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Benghazi Committee, blasted House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy for comments that suggested the panel was more about wounding Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign than probing the 2012 deadly terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Libya.
Speaking on Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Gowdy said “Kevin screwed up.”
“Kevin has apologized as profusely as a human being can apologize,” Gowdy, R-S.C., said. “I went back and watched the interview. And what I tell folks back home is I don’t care how many times you put an ear piece in your ear and looked into a camera, you still screw up, and Kevin screwed up.”
Gowdy added that he didn’t know whether McCarthy’s comments, made during an interview on Fox News, were the result of host Sean Hannity “pressing him.”
“I don’t know if he got thrown off by asking – to give Speaker Boehner a grade,” Gowdy said. “I can’t unlock the mysteries of that.”
In the Fox interview, McCarthy said: “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable.”
He made the remarks as he’s running to replace outgoing House Speaker John Boehner. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, one of McCarthy’s opponents for speaker, is using the comments as evidence that he would be a more articulate speaker than the California Republican.
Congressional Democrats have also seized on McCarthy’s comments. Wednesday, Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., the ranking Democrat on the House Rules Committee, tried to push through a resolution to disband the Benghazi committee, claiming that McCarthy’s remarks “called into question the integrity of the proceedings of the Select Committee and the House of Representatives as a whole”
House Republicans beat back the Democratic effort on a party-line 240-183 vote.
Earlier in the day, Gowdy defended the work of his committee.
“I could just tell you, if you look at what the members of our committee have done, we were pretty reluctantly brought into the Secretary Clinton aspect of it,” he said in the MSNBC interview. “I mean, we worked in virtual anonymity for the first eight months. In fact, I got more criticism from the right than I did from the left. It’s because The New York Times and AP and others broke this story that folks’ interest in Secretary Clinton picked up in this regard. Our interest in her is because she was secretary of state at the time.”