Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and congressional Democrats renewed their attacks on the House Benghazi Committee Thursday after a Republican lawmaker said in a radio interview that the panel was, in part, “designed to go after” her.
Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., speaking Wednesday on “Keeler in the Morning” on New York’s WIBX radio, said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., “blew himself up” to succeed John Boehner, R-Ohio, as House speaker when he seemed to suggest in a television interview that the Benghazi committee was more about hurting Clinton’s White House run than investigating the deadly 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Libya.
Then Hanna added “Sometimes the biggest sin you can commit in D.C. is to tell the truth.”
“This may not be politically correct, but I think that there is a big part of this investigation that was designed to go after people, an individual, Hillary Clinton,” Hanna said. “I think there’s also a lot of it that’s important that we needed to get to the bottom of this. But this has been the longest investigation, longer than Watergate.”
Clinton’s campaign pounced on Hanna’s remarks. The 2016 Democratic presidential frontrunner,who was secretary of state at the time of the Benghazi attack, is scheduled to testify before the committee next week.
“House Republicans aren't even shy anymore about admitting that the Benghazi Committee is a partisan farce,” Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said in a statement. “After failing to produce any new information on the tragic 2012 attacks at Benghazi despite a 17-month investigation, John Boehner has reportedly urged the committee to shift its focus to Hillary Clinton's emails in an ongoing effort to try to hurt her politically. Hillary Clinton will still attend next week's hearing, but at this point, Trey Gowdy's inquiry has zero credibility left.”
Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., took Hanna to task Thursday, saying the New York lawmaker isn’t a member of the committee and “has never asked for a briefing by the committee staff.”
“My team of investigators, drawn from the military, federal agencies and the congressional oversight and ethics committees, has worked hard, and in an above-board manner,” Gowdy said in a statement. “It is unfortunate when claims are made by those who do not know what the committee has done, why it has done it, or the results of its work.”
Gowdy said he had an informal conversation with Hanna recently in which Hanna “raised neither questions with the scope or the approach of the committee.” He said he spoke with Hanna again on Thursday “to find out if he had any concerns since our last conversation and offered him some insights to the committee’s work.”
He told Hanna that the committee recently received emails from Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed in the Benghazi attack, “but I also highlighted the fact that we have not rushed out to talk about them, but are instead evaluating them in the serious, fact-centric way evidence should be handled.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the Benghazi committee’s ranking Democrat, said the comments by Hanna, McCarthy, and Maj. Bradley Podliska, a former GOP staffer on the committee, are proof that the panel’s main mission is political.
“Over the past two weeks, we have heard the truth from the Republican House majority leader, one of Chairman (Trey) Gowdy’s own handpicked ‘conservative Republican’ investigators, and now yet another Republican member of Congress, all saying what is crystal clear to those of us who have been working inside the committee on a daily basis,” Cummings said in a statement. “It’s finally time for the Republican Party to stop denying the undeniable, stop defending the indefensible, and stop using millions of taxpayer dollars for the illegitimate purpose of trying to damage Hillary Clinton’s bid for president.”