Boehner to create select committee on Benghazi, GOP Sens call for joint panel
May 2nd, 2014
03:45 PM ET
7 years 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.

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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. Tampa Tim

    If I was a worthless drunk in charge of the House of Representatives, I would demand that Issa spend millions for no reason, other than to embarrass Hillary for republican wrong doing by not funding our embassies. No republican outrage for 9-11-2001, 15 embassy attacks under Bush with 50 Americans killed, unnecessary republican wars with 4500 Americans killed, makes this republican hypocrisy the biggest witch hunt since Salem.

    May 2, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  2. Tampa Tim

    Dear Karma,
    I think you missed a lot of republicans.

    May 2, 2014 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    More waste of taxpayers money. All the GOP is doing is politicizing this.

    May 2, 2014 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  4. Tampa Tim

    Boehner is taking a page out of Animal House with his super secret committee.

    May 2, 2014 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  5. Lynda/Minnesota

    Well, that ought to put an end to it once and for all.

    Yeah, I know. I know.

    Ben Ghazi 2016

    May 2, 2014 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  6. Lisa P.

    Anything to avoid talking about giving 90 million hard working Americans a well deserved raise.

    May 2, 2014 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  7. Donna

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA – Take Back the House
    More waste of taxpayers money. All the GOP is doing is politicizing this.

    Sorry, that is exactly what Obama and his campaign did when they concocted a fairytale and lied to the American people in the middle of a Presidential election. It has become very clear, almost everything coming out of the Obama administration is lies and obfuscation, no matter what the subject. Jay Carney has become a total joke and is a fool to continue with his rather inept lying.

    May 2, 2014 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  8. 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.

    May 2, 2014 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  9. ThinkAgain: Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    The ONLY reason Boehner and the repub/tea bags are doing this is because they are afraid of Hillary Clinton running for president in 2016. And just like with Whitewater, they will find NOTHING, but they continue their "investigations," wasting taxpayer money and having an excuse for not doing ANYTHING to help our country.

    May 2, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  10. ThinkAgain: Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    Please, please, PLEASE all Democratic voters! Get out and VOTE on November 4, 2014. It is the only way we can put an end to this nonsense by the repubs!

    How much more taxpayer money do you want them to waste? How many more children to you want to see go to bed hungry because Boehner and the repub/tea bags want to cut even more money from food stamps and other programs that help the most vulnerable among us – all the while pushing to cut taxes for the rich?

    If you're as sick of the repub/tea bags as I am, then get out and VOTE on November 4, 2014.

    It's the least you can do for your country.

    May 2, 2014 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  11. Coffee Party

    Obamacare is a success.

    Unemployment is down.

    So what do the republicans do?


    Expect a lot of this nonsense that has nothing to do with the American people if they take the Senate this year.

    Total snoozefest.

    May 2, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  12. Yes It's Not

    So the GOP got jealous of the Democrat's Death Panel and had to create their own eh? Took them long enough.

    May 2, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  13. bczu

    Wasnt this already investigated by an independent agency? No other things you could be working on? Jobs? Russia? Nah?

    May 2, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  14. tom l

    Tampa, it was double secret probation and not a committee. You can't even get that right.

    May 2, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  15. KE

    Oh Bonehead, give it a rest. Why don't you try actually doing something worthwhile for a change? So sick of this.

    May 2, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  16. Brian

    Now that the GOP has been proven wrong on the success on the ACA, they need to re-invent the Benghazi boogie man. Ironic that this same announcement coincides with the great jobs report numbers and lowering of unemployment in the US.

    May 2, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  17. woodlander2

    I guess you Dems still believe in the video fairy tale. This administration developed a false Benghazi narrative to protect Obama in the run up to the 2012 elections. That's like rigging the elections. To me this is worst than Watergate and the truth is yet to be known because the administration is still playing politics with the truth.

    May 2, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  18. zenreaper

    Okay, so explain why the "most transparent administration in history" needs to be THREATENED with contempt charges to turn over the Emails and information? Explain why the House passed a SIMPLE bill, giving us ALL access to the "successful" numbers from Obamacare...and Reid REFUSES to let a vote happen in the Senate? You liberals are like the 3 year old who teases and taunts and refuses to listen, or refuses to follow the rules, then stands there and asks why Mommy and Daddy are MAD at them. You want this investigation to END, TURN OVER THE DAMN INFORMATION!!!

    May 2, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  19. Chuck

    And, more money and time wasted. Since the economy is picking up, unemployment at a new low, and the ACA becoming a success, what else is there to rehash? Benghazi!!. Let's rewind a little bit to WMD in Iraq. Known lies that were forced down Americans throats with color enhanced charts, bells and whistles. How many of our soldiers, and how many innocent Iraqi's were killed because of these lies. And George and Dick are still free men. How Ironic. This is going to backfire on the republicans worse than a pig with diarrhea.

    May 2, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  20. Patriot

    What a waste of time! Do the Nation's business Boehner and that might actually get you and your cohorts reelected. This kind of idiocy just putst the nail in the GOP's coffin in even deeper.

    May 2, 2014 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  21. liz

    The Teapublican/GOP are so scared of Hillary they will try anything to shut down her run for President.

    May 2, 2014 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  22. yep

    There's the democrats who are trying to fix the economy, create jobs, clean the environment, improve education, fix the roads, etc....

    Then there's the republicans... what do they do? hmmm, well, they focus on self delusions of conspiracies because they can't do anything positive for the country. What good are they?

    May 2, 2014 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  23. Cedar Rapids

    'Until now, Boehner resisted calls from House Republicans to establish such a committee, repeatedly pointing to the four House panels already investigating the matter'

    Oh for crying out loud. 4 ongoing and still nothing found and they think 2 new ones will find something? Are they going to keep creating panels each time an election is coming up?

    May 2, 2014 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  24. sly

    Good news – it's about time someone investigates the Republicans.

    Refused to let us spend $300 million for increased security.

    Every Republican in the House has American blood on their hands, and it's about time we investigate them.

    May 2, 2014 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  25. alamb

    It's utterly incredible how corrupt some Americans have become, and I am referring to Obama CULT followers who upon, hypothetically, seeing Obama shot someone in the head would argue it is Republicans politicizing.
    Obama SPUN Benghazi, he lied about why it happened and sought to cover up. He was still talking about a video when he spoke in the well of the UN, a good 2 weeks after the event, if I am not mistaken about the actual timeline. And of course he trusted the nice poodles in the MSM to hush this down with their typical use of denigrating sophisticated style. America needs to wake up because up is NOT down and down is NOT up and right is NOT wrong and wrong is NOT right, etc. You get my drift!

    May 2, 2014 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
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