Politics & Government

Wait. The GOP-led Benghazi probe was political?

Here’s what House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said last year when he created the special panel to investigate the attacks on the American embassy compound in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012:

“With four of our countrymen killed at the hands of terrorists, the American people want answers, accountability, and justice.”

The Select Committee on Benghazi was created in May 2014. It has played a key role in producing the initial disclosures about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

Like the health care overhaul and the current controversy over Planned Parenthood, the Benghazi attack became a political target for Republicans.

Boehner created it, despite the fact that seven previous inquiries had either been conducted or were still underway at the time. Indeed, a two-year House Intelligence Committee report released later in 2012 found that the intelligence agencies, the military and Obama administration officials acted correctly, all concerns that have driven the special panel headed by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.

In choosing Gowdy, Boehner said that “his background as a federal prosecutor and his zeal for the truth make him the ideal person…This is a big job, but Rep. Gowdy has the confidence of this conference, and I know his professionalism and grit will earn him the respect of the American people.”

It’s worth noting then how House Majority Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the likely-speaker-in-waiting as a result of Boehner’s decision to retire due to constant pressure from the GOP’s right wing, now characterizes the purpose of the Benghazi panel.

“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?” he told Fox News in an interview Tuesday. “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. But no one would have known that any of that had happened had we not fought to make that happen.”

Democrats couldn’t respond fast enough.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking member of the Benghazi panel, said McCarthy’s comment “reveals the truth that Republicans never dared admit in public: the core Republican goal in establishing the Benghazi Committee was always to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and never to conduct an even-handed search for the facts.”

David Goldstein: 202-383-6105, @GoldsteinDavidJ

CORRECTION: An earlier version said the Benghazi inquiry was the longest congressional investigation ever. That’s wrong, according research by Politifact, a nonpartisan watchdog service.

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