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. Jim M

    I hope that Boehner will be re-imbursing the tax payers for the money they have spent.

    May 2, 2014 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  2. paul reynolds

    Seriously!?? So the 55 GOP Bills to REPEAL ObamaCare with NO Chance to Pass the Other 2 Branches was NOT Enough Waste of U.S. Government and Taxpayer Funds.!???

    How will these "Hearings" makes America SAFER or Create JOBS exactly.!??

    May 2, 2014 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  3. Todd

    Because this is the most important use of our time right now... Figuring out why these gentlemen died. It's not going to bring them back.

    Meanwhile – how many other soldiers lost their lives. Where was their congressional investigation?

    I know that I'm over-generalizing this, but the point is that we have more pressing matters to attend to. Republicans have this ridiculous ax to grind with the Whitehouse, and this is just another example of how petty the GOP has become.

    Why do we pay these guys again?

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

    Time for Laughter is over Progressives

    May 2, 2014 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  5. elucidated1

    Darrell Issa was one of the GOP Republcans in the House that voted to cut Embassy security funding in 2012. Not convenient, is it?

    May 2, 2014 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  6. paul reynolds

    Strange how 24 Embassy Attacks under Dubya = IGNORED
    1 Embassy Attack under Obama after the GOP slashes Border and Embassy Security budgets = OUTRAGE!!!?

    May 2, 2014 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  7. liberal disease

    hopefully this next set of hearings with do what Pelosi wanted DRAIN THE SWAMP

    May 2, 2014 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  8. WOW

    I love Reid, NOW he is worried about jobs yet yesterday he is on the Senate floor demanding the Redskins change their name and logo....Please!!!

    May 2, 2014 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  9. Robert

    Heard In The Room.
    Hmm.
    Let us see.
    Attacking ACA hasn't worked.
    So let's revisit Benghazi.
    Using the deaths for our political gain.
    Might just work this time.
    Especially if we can drag it out through November.

    May 2, 2014 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  10. bnfishing

    You guys are great at calling Republicans names... try defending the facts... The administration either lied to the American people calling a terrorist attack an Islamist pep rally gone bad, or they are grossly incompetent... ignoring every report from the theater that the embassy was under attack. I do not believe they are incompetent. They are liars, and continue to lie... "the memo is not about Benghazi." Unbelievable.

    May 2, 2014 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  11. Nathan

    We know what happened in Benghazi.
    Quit wasting money and time and get some ideas to help Americans.

    May 2, 2014 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  12. James

    Honestly besides politicians, news media personalities, rabid talk show hosts and frenzied bloggers with too much time on their hands I can't find any work class Americans who care about Benghazi.

    May 2, 2014 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  13. kylefromohio

    How about a panel for Job creation ; Where is the Jobs Bill you promised!!!!

    May 2, 2014 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  14. steve

    The next thing the GOP will try to do is put the Democrats on "double secret probation".Waste more tax payers dollars and tie up the house so nothing can be done.It's time to throw the GOP scroundels out once and for all!

    May 2, 2014 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  15. Thatguy371

    Here's a novel idea. Ignore your ultra rightie conspiracy theory nutz. They will NEVER shut it down on the subject. No matter HOW much proof there is that this is a non-issue. They're still going on about President Obama's birth certificate! IGNORE THEM, and start doing the business the citizens elected you for!!

    May 2, 2014 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  16. ibuk

    Guess he's got nothing better to do than waste taxpayers money.

    May 2, 2014 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  17. rick3807

    It is just very sad that the GOP/Tea Party folks spend so much time and money on this stuff when there are so many other things the majority of the American people want them to deal with.

    May 2, 2014 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  18. kylefromohio

    The Three Ass – migo's Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and John McCain of Arizona said in a statement.

    May 2, 2014 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  19. ricco

    just more proof the republican party is useless in governing. what a joke.

    May 2, 2014 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  20. so much for honesty

    So what do you ask a man who wasn't there, or in the position at the time that happened 2 years ago? Can you feed red meat to our believers for us?

    May 2, 2014 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  21. smc

    I knew it was a terror attack within 24 hours of when it happened, because the administration said so. Republicans, on the other hand, are still trying to figure something-or-other out almost 2 years later.

    When will somebody, PLEASE, tell Republicans to stop wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on this?

    May 2, 2014 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  22. Jon

    Pulleeeze, call it a terrorist attack if you want to - who cares??

    May 2, 2014 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  23. 1776usa2016

    .
    Seriously guys, if this is the best you GOP/TEA guys can come up with:
    recycling Obamacare and Benghazi with all the other pressing problems in the country you guys are doomed.

    .

    May 2, 2014 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  24. Reason & Logic

    "...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.

    Mr. Boehner, while you're at it, have some guts to also establish a committee to find out once and for all who lied about the Iraqi WMDs.

    May 2, 2014 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  25. paul reynolds

    What is the "Charge" exactly – Is there a drop of Proof the Initial Chaos was NOT from the Video which also caused Riots in other Cities at the same time.!??

    May 2, 2014 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
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