Boehner to create select committee on Benghazi, GOP Sens call for joint panel
May 2nd, 2014
03:45 PM ET
5 months ago

Boehner to create select committee on Benghazi, GOP Sens call for joint panel

Washington (CNN) - House Speaker John Boehner said Friday that he will form a select committee to investigate the deadly terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi in 2012.

The move comes after previously unreleased documents, including an email from a White House national security aide, added to questions about what the Obama administration knew about the armed assault and how it responded in the days after.

Until now, Boehner resisted calls from House Republicans to establish such a committee, repeatedly pointing to the four House panels already investigating the matter that has become a political flashpoint in the conduct of foreign policy.

But a senior GOP leadership aide said the new email from Ben Rhodes, a document previously not disclosed to Congress that listed talking points on the attack for an administration official, "were the straw that broke the camel's back."

Republicans contend the email, written days after the attack and two months before the 2012 presidential election, proves White House manipulation of the messaging for political purposes, and a cover-up of the fact that Benghazi was, indeed, a terror attack.

"The administration's withholding of documents – emails showing greater White House involvement in misleading the American people – is a flagrant violation of trust and undermines the basic principles of oversight upon which our system of government is built," Boehner said in a statement announcing the new panel.

Separately, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa on Friday said he had subpoenaed Secretary of State John Kerry to testify about the development later this month.

Boehner said the select committee would “elevate the investigation to a new level.”

Obama administration officials initially said the attacks stemmed from protests generated by an anti-Muslim film, but evidence emerged that al Qaeda-affiliated terror groups were also involved in the assault.

Rhodes’ email indicates that the goal of the administration's talking points for U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was to "underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy."

The email surfaced after Judicial Watch, an outside conservative group, received a response this week to its Freedom of Information Act request for Benghazi materials.

Senior House GOP aides told CNN that the select committee would be led by South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy, a former prosecutor and member of the Oversight Committee.

But details on how it would work, the kind of investigative powers it would have, and who else would serve on it were being worked out, according to several Republican aides.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the Oversight panel, said that committee has already taken the lead on the investigation.

“There is no authority you can give a select committee that Chairman Issa doesn't already have, including the ability to issue unilateral subpoenas to compel any witness or any document,” he said.

Virginia Republican Rep. Frank Wolf introduced a bill to form a select committee three months after the attacks that 190 House GOP members have co-sponsored. Boehner said the House would vote on a measure to create the panel but the timing of the vote is unclear.

The leadership aide, who declined to be identified in order to speak freely about internal talks, explained that "while the existing investigatory committees in the House have full subpoena power, the administration has now demonstrated it is willing to flagrantly defy such subpoena requests, compelling the House to consider taking the strongest actions possible in an effort to ensure Americans have the truth about what happened."

House Democrats contend the continued GOP focus on Benghazi is a motivated by politics.

They said the Rhodes email contains the same type of message that was included in documents already released showing how the administration was interpreting its intelligence on the attacks.

Asked about the new documents on Thursday, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters, "I haven't seen that but what I will say is diversion, subterfuge. Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi – why aren't' we talking about something else?"

Pelosi's spokesman said she has not been contacted by Boehner or anyone else in Republican leadership about the move to form a select committee.

In the Senate, Republicans who have been outspoken on Benghazi called for a joint committee.

“We call on Majority Leader Harry Reid to take similar action and to work with Speaker Boehner to make the select committee a joint effort between the House and Senate. We owe it to the families that lost their loved ones in the Benghazi attack to finally get to the truth,” Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and John McCain of Arizona said in a statement.

Reid was dismissive. “While Republicans try to gin up yet another political food fight, Senate Democrats will remain focused on fostering economic growth for all hard-working Americans,” he said.

CNN’s Ted Barrett contributed to this report.


Filed under: Congress • John Boehner • Libya
soundoff (159 Responses)
  1. Xavier

    Bengazi Bengazi Bengazi, How many times do some Republican politicians want to keep beating this dead horse until it's dust an blows away. My guess the'll gather up the dust into a pill in front of the cameras so that they can keep beating it. AN YES YES how about the 9/11 that the Republican administration started a war an so meany lives were lost an for what. Back in Iraq now 2014 there killing each as if we were never there.

    May 2, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  2. Silence DoGood

    @tom l
    Tampa Tim

    Republicans are good at deflecting the blame for not funding additional security for our embassies. All elected republicans should be tried for treason.
    =====
    Yeah, Tim. I'm sure you're not a paid poster. So weird how now you go with this tagline. You are so obvious.
    ------
    No evidence of a Benghazi conspiracy – so it must totally true.
    TomL has no evidence of TT being a paid poster – so it must all be true.
    The twisted logic of conspiracy theorist!

    May 2, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  3. Juvenal451

    Doug:

    "if you're okay with blatantly lying to the American people..."

    What lie? There was widespread unhappiness about an anti-Islam video. There were riots. In Libya, which was filled with armed militias, some Islamic-oriented, which had just booted Ghaddafi out, these armed militias took part in the riots, using their weapons and tactics which had become familiar to them during the uprising. Does it tax GOP intellect to suppose that events are sometimes, or even often, attributable to a combination of factors? One thing is clear: there was no PLANNED attack.

    May 2, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  4. Bill Davis

    Now that we have 5 committees on Benghazi can we have 1 on WMD's?

    May 2, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  5. Stephen Williams

    We could have found out who did this. But no. Let's just pretend like one party is hiding something super special that changes all. So crazy extremist did this lets go after them. No lets just form worthless partisan committees that are more for feedback in the next presidential to show the democrats somehow mislead us. It was nice when it seemed like the right was not this one sided but maybe they always were. In the end more tax dollars wasted not finding the real thing more for in house fighting that ends no where.

    May 2, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  6. jaydavid666

    It sounds like Boehner sincerely wants to help our country.

    This couldn't possibly be a cynical ploy by Boehner to hurt Obama, which also hurts our entire country, just because midterm elections are coming up.

    No politician could be that cynical.

    May 2, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  7. Xavier

    Bengazi Bengazi Bengazi, How many times do some Republican politicians want to keep beating this dead horse until it's dust an blows away. My guess the'll gather up the dust into a pill in front of the cameras so that they can keep beating it. AN YES YES how about the 9/11 that the Republican administration started a war an so meany lives were lost an for what. Back in Iraq now 2014 there killing each OTHER as if we were never there.

    May 2, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  8. Oneof3millionUnemployed

    What about the 3 million families with any income?

    May 2, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  9. Silence DoGood

    @Paul
    4 Americans were literally Murdered because the White House IGNORED them., before the attack, during the attack, and even after the attack, by trying to sweep this Cover-up and tragedy under the rug.

    Liberals have been trying to downplay this since the day after it happened, in order to Protect their believed messiah, right before the election!
    ---------
    You forgot GOP ignored them when they voted to reduce security funding.

    May 2, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
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