Politics & Government

What did Clinton camp emails say about Benghazi panel chair long before that attack?

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is still in South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy’s cross hairs. But she’s been tracking him, as well.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is still in South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy’s cross hairs. But she’s been tracking him, as well. AP

Before the Benghazi attacks, before the congressional investigations and long before the Democratic presidential nominee and South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy became linked by the tragic events in Libya’s second largest city, Hillary Clinton’s inner circle was circulating an email in November 2010 warning of an incoming class of Republicans.

The email was released by WikiLeaks as part of The Podesta Emails. John Podesta runs the Clinton presidential campaign, and he has been close to the Clinton family for decades, serving as Bill Clinton’s chief of staff.

Still, this email doesn’t appear to be directly tied to Clinton. In fact, it doesn’t seem to be tied to much of anything. It’s a summation by a collection of left-leaning folks of the 100 incoming Republican Congress members, described as “a snapshot of the GOP Class of 2010’s extremism.”

The email, sent by Josh Dorner, communications director for Progressive Media, addresses South Carolina Reps. Tim Scott, Jeff Duncan and Mick Mulvaney, in addition to Gowdy – and that’s in addition to 96 other incoming representatives it discusses.

As a general statement, the email report states, “These GOPers come from disparate backgrounds, but they are united by their adherence to the extreme wing of conservative ideology. A new ThinkProgress investigation has found that the incoming GOP freshman class is rife with legislators who not only oppose climate change legislation, but deny that man-made global warming even exists. They are pushing not just to end birthright citizenship, but also demand that the United States reduce the number of legal immigrants.”

It then goes on to point out where liberals might have problems with the legislators, using the shorthand of GW to stand for “global warming denier” and CC for “no climate change legislation,” BC for “end birthright citizenship,” RI for “reduce legal immigration,” TP for “no tax increase pledge,” ET for “repeal estate tax” and BB for “balanced budget amendment” supporters.

Gowdy was listed as GW, CC, TP, ET and BB (ticking five of nine liberal boxes).

Scott ticked the CC, BB, BC and RI buttons.

Duncan worried liberals in only three areas back then: BC, RI and TP. Mulvaney was tied with Gowdy for most liberal worrying positions: GW, CC, TP, ET and BB.

The email included links to show exactly where the new arrivals had expressed such views, though there were no individual comments beyond that.

Gowdy, however, the chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, was a frequent subject of the Podesta emails before and after the 2012 attacks, appearing in 222 of them. Most of the emails were similar to this one, reports that mentioned Gowdy being sent around the Clinton inner circle.

Sometimes they were snarky comments. An email from Podesta on Oct 24, 2015, suggested a joke Clinton could use when speaking to Gowdy’s committee. “On freshening things up, what about: I used to be obsessed with Donald Trump’s hair, that was until I got to spend 11 hours staring at the top of Trey Gowdy’s head.”

Sometimes they discussed strategy on dealing with Gowdy. Philippe Reines – a senior adviser to Clinton when she was secretary of state – sent an email on May 8, 2015, under the subject line of “Tea Leaves.”

“Gowdy doesn’t know what to do, to get out of the jam of his own making: she wants to come, he wants the documents. Important to continue to note that no other Republican (Member of Congress), the (Republican National Committee), or commentator has even once echoes Gowdy’s demand for two hearings. Everyone but Gowdy knows it’s a loser.”

Matthew Schofield: 202-383-6066, @mattschodcnews