Benghazi committee members travel to Europe

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton greets supporters at the Central Iowa Democrats Fall Barbecue Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, in Ames, Iowa.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton greets supporters at the Central Iowa Democrats Fall Barbecue Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. AP

Republican lawmakers on the House committee investigating the fatal Benghazi attacks in 2012 are traveling to Europe as part of their inquiry.

The committee declined to release details about the trip for security reasons, but Democrats say Republicans are embarking on “a lavish and expensive new congressional delegation to Italy and other European destinations.”

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, a Republican from Georgia who is going on the trip, also acknowledges in a speech caught on video Nov. 10 that they are going to Italy and Germany.

“Next week we’ll be going to Germany and to Italy to do some more research, on the Benghazi,” he said. “So this thing is not over, and I promise you one thing: We are going to tell you what really happened, and all the consequences that went with it, and to let you know if we are prepared for another situation that can possibly come up in the Middle East, or anywhere else in the world where we have our men and women working for this country.”

The Republican-led House Select Committee on Benghazi, which heard testimony from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last month, is already facing criticism for costing taxpayers millions.

What do Hillary’s emails and Monica Lewinsky have in common? Both were scandals discovered because Congress investigated a Clinton. As Hillary prepares to appear before the Benghazi Committee on October 22, McClatchy political editor Steven “Buzz”

It has proven more costly than permanent panels on intelligence, veterans affairs, ethics and small business, according to the Committee on House Administration, which collects monthly expenditure reports from each committee. Democrats have a website constantly calculating the cost of the committee: $5 million.

“In the 11-hour marathon hearing with Secretary Clinton, Republicans showed the world that the Benghazi Select Committee is a taxpayer-funded fishing expedition to derail Secretary Clinton’s presidential campaign – and that their net came up empty,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the top Democrat on the committee. “The Republicans will never resuscitate the credibility of this committee, and they certainly won’t do so by traveling to Italy on the taxpayers’ dime.”

Republicans say the committee’s expenses includes Democrats’ spending even though they have not tried to help further the investigation or access documents the Obama administration has not provided.

“Instead of working with Republicans to get answers for the families of those killed in Benghazi, Democrats obsessed with defending the former secretary of state continue to waste taxpayer dollars doing everything they can to undermine and obstruct the committee’s fact-centered investigation.,” Committee spokesman Matt Wolking said. “These politically-motivated Democrats have now sunk to a new low by disregarding the safety and security of members of Congress traveling to military and intelligence centers overseas.”

In 2013, after Cummings blasted Republican lawmakers for traveling to Libya, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. was threatened.

Republicans say Democrats must not understand the relevance of learning about military facilities assigned to respond to terrorist attacks on America’s diplomatic outposts.

Democrats say the committee already has access to come information about Department of Defense actions in Libya though testimony and hearings conducted by the House Armed Services Committee.

Hillary Clinton, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., give their opening statements at the Benghazi hearing on October 22, 2015. Rep. Gowdy defended the committee and Rep. Cummings defended Clinton while the former Secretary o