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. bobo

    Thanks to the new email that popped up...... which should have been given to the Senate inquiry....

    May 2, 2014 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  2. busterkat

    after the witch hunt is over please reopen the 911 investigation too , also find out why 90 American embassy personnel killed under bush didn't matter at that time , also please tell us why bush and cheney have arrest warrants from the Hague too ,,, wow , the gop of fascist neocons keep trying to find anything on Obama ! first the birther , Kenya , Muslim , commie , etc. etc. didn't work ,, the gop is a disgrace

    May 2, 2014 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  3. Easy

    When you aren't the mother of a lifeless body used for political points in an election year.

    May 2, 2014 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  4. Zeke

    It may be this will be Obama's Behngazigate moment. The time when the truth comes out. I am just wondering who Obama will sacrifice to protect himself. Hillary?

    May 2, 2014 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  5. ja

    He should have created a WMD panel, we lost thousands of lives on both sides and billions of dollars because of a lie and no heads rolled to hell with the GOP senators

    May 2, 2014 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  6. Bryan Beus

    Glad to see they're finally looking into this.

    What bothers me about this is that all fingers point to the idea that the president lied to us in order to win the election.

    May 2, 2014 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  7. Tammy

    I still haven't found resolution to my questions regarding Ms. Plame, alerts provided to Rice regarding flying lessons and potential terror attacks prior to 9/11, many deaths at other embassies before the Obama administration, Cheney's association and boondoggle with Halliburton, etc. Believe it or not, my level of trust of this Administration far exceeds that of his predesessor. If the families of those killed in Bengazi deserve answers, what about the families of those killed during 9/11, the Iraqi and Afghan wars, and other embassy attacks. The right to know should not be so one-sided.

    May 2, 2014 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  8. PushingBack

    It's like the GOP simply cannot avoid hitting their self-destruct button.

    May 2, 2014 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  9. Drew

    Let me guess,Louie Goehmert,Blake Farenthold,Eric Cantor and Michelle Bachmann will be on there?

    May 2, 2014 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  10. TK

    Give it up Republicans.

    May 2, 2014 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  11. PushingBack

    The GOP:





    May 2, 2014 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  12. clownshoes Mcgun from Kentucky

    Yes please, let's waste more of the taxpayers money on more GOP nonsense.

    So when this is over and they find nothing, as they will, what is their next red herring going to be. Oh wait, I know they are going to reopen the Monica Lewinskie case from like 20 years ago. In the mean time where are all their ideas and policies? That's right they don't have any of any value that the majority of American people would vote for, instead they are busy with this.

    Well at least I have my guns I can take to my local church just in case some hippie comes in talking about the environment...YEEE HAAA!!

    May 2, 2014 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  13. PaulCat

    and how many died??????????????????????????????

    May 2, 2014 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  14. snowdogg

    Keep the fires of controversy roaring... we all care a lot.

    May 2, 2014 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  15. Tru

    If republicans are interested in saving government money; quit wasting money on these investigations that are going nowhere. These people (regressive republicans) have so much hatred for President Obama; they will stop at nothing. I wonder what will these people do when President Obama's second term is over?

    May 2, 2014 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  16. littletingod2013

    George W. Bush allows over 3000 people to die on 9/11 and then starts a war in a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11, allowing an additional 4000 plus American men and women to die for nothing and nobody says anything. 4 men die in a raid on a defenseless building and the GOP spends years trying to say Obama is to blame and can't come up with a single thing that points a finger his way. Or Hillary's way either.

    May 2, 2014 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  17. henry

    The only reason that he is rehashing this is that Hillary Clinton is becoming a viable liberal candidate. No other reason!

    May 2, 2014 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  18. bf

    The news media refuses to cover the fact that we have a president who let four Americans die in order to get elected. This is a tragedy!

    May 2, 2014 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  19. Tom

    Mike Morell, deputy director of the CIA, wasn't sure why Susan Rice attributed the attacks to the video. Military intelligence did not attribute the attack to a video. Stated testimony.

    There was no mention of a video in the talking points. MIke Morelll edited those talking points, he never mentioned the video. The WH came up with the video idea, based on newspapers.

    Bret Baier nterviewed Mr. Vietor, when pressed where the video idea came from, Mr. Vietor stated guys in newspapers. Now we know why the WH blamed the video, based on critical intel, from guys in newspapers. The WH believes that our enormous, expensive, intelligence apparatus doesn't pay attention to newspapers?

    What happened is very simple, it was the anniversary of 911, which everyone seems to forget, and our ambassador was in a hot zone, with AQ camps nearby. It was no video, there was no protest, they knew exactly where the ambassador was, and they came with heavy weapons. We know the rest of this lousy story.

    May 2, 2014 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  20. ProudDem

    Well Obamacare didn't cause the apocolypse that they all GUARANTEED it would if it went live, so I suppose this is all they have left. The Dems have immigration, minimum wage, other things to vote FOR, and the GOP have things to vote AGAINST. November will be fascinating, however it goes.

    May 2, 2014 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  21. Tammy Lambert in Arizona

    So does this mean the GOP is done worrying about the economy and they are going to put all their efforts into this..So the economy isnt as horrible as they say.. wouldnt that be priority???

    May 2, 2014 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  22. roro

    Enough already. Rep. Issa has already spent millions of dollars and thousands of man hours trying to find something nefarious and HAS FOUND NOTHING. How about explaining why when Sec. of State Clinton came before Congress asking for more money to protect embassies, she was given a resounding no? Issa keeps spending taxpayer money and coming up with nothing. Why is he allowed to keep doing this?

    May 2, 2014 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  23. ItSoNlYmE

    Get over yourself John. Try governing instead of hunting witches.

    May 2, 2014 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  24. Lisa P.


    Four Americans needlessly died – then Obama and Hillary came out and LIED! They LIED for political expedience (Obama lied to get re-elected!) and no one seems to care – after all, at this point WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE, eh Obamadroids?!!

    Obama and Hillary have blood on their hands.
    May 2, 2014 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm

    Tens of thousands of Americans will die needlessly in the coming year because a handful of Republican governors refused the Obamacare Medicaid expansion for purely political reasons, running counter to both the health and welfare of their citizens and the economic interests of their states. What are *you* going to do about that? If nothing then you too will have blood on your hands, right along with those self-promoting partisan governors.

    May 2, 2014 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    Seems like a lot of people aren't concerned if their current Presidential Administration is lying to them or deliberately misleading them for political gain. Not saying this one is. Administrations of the past of both political parties are guilty of this, but that doesn't make it OK. I say trust, but verify.

    May 2, 2014 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
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