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. philip

    What about Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and all of the others from the previous administration who murdered so many of our troops? How about them?

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

    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 |
  3. bobo

    Jay Carney to Step down.....cites family issues....

    May 2, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "Jesus H Christ. What the hell is wrong with these republicans?"

    Answer: the ACA is working and succeeding and even their attempts to cook up fudged numbers of their own have been disproven as failures. Their ads are consistently proven to be full of lies about it and their recent attempts to find credible "Obamacare horror stories" that will stand up under scrutiny are also failing.

    We are now witnessing Plan B(enghazi).

    May 2, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  5. John

    It is a Seriously sad day for Republicans Everyday this Congress is in Session ...

    May 2, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  6. 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.

    May 2, 2014 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  7. JAC

    Really? Lets open an investigation on Hillary's conduct during second grade while we are at it. I think she cheated on a 7th grade test too - committee please. What a joke. Every administration has had it moments where things did not go as planned. If I am wrong, please tell me one that hasn't. This is total BS to attack Hillary - and yet another example of Boehner's inept leadership in what will go down in history as the worst speakership ever.

    May 2, 2014 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  8. John

    Republicans do not Know about 911 and are not sure how it happened. THEY want elected at any cost even dignity is not to high a price. The only answers that matter are the ones that make them seem viable.

    May 2, 2014 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  9. Luc

    are you kidding do they really think they are going to find something to go after Hillary in 2016 what a waste of money. They can use that money to reinstate unemployment benefits, keep hospitals open in the south etc. Another waste that is why they will not win POTUS

    May 2, 2014 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  10. The

    Wow. I'm just astonished at the fact that people here are still trying to say this was caused by a protest, or that the administration thought it was. Even though they've publicly admitted there was not a protest, and that they knew within 2 hours of it happening. Man, some of you hear something once that satisfies your beliefs and you just shut off your brain to ANY additional information that says differently....even if it's your own guys that admit to it. Simply amazing.

    May 2, 2014 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  11. teedofftaxpayer

    Perhaps Nancy needs to create a committee on how little work Bonehead does.

    May 2, 2014 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  12. The GOP need to pack up and leave

    What about the panel that's supposed to check into the illegal actions of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Rice, etc?

    May 2, 2014 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  13. ritmocojo

    This fake rage is well over-the-top now. Where was this rage when 27+ were killed at various embassies and consulates during that dark administration of Bush & Cheney? How about the 4,000 killed in Bush's war based on never to be found WMDs? Give us a break already and do some real work for the country, Mr. Weeper of the House!

    May 2, 2014 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  14. Tampa Tim

    smith – The difference is that Bush was a total incompetent.

    May 2, 2014 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  15. Robert N. constant

    To politicize the events at Benghazi shows how low these Republicans will go to score cheap political shots

    May 2, 2014 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  16. Fred

    We need way more attention paid to a real scandal...the Veterans Administration, and way less to a stupid tragedy like Ben Ghazi.
    Keep the pressure up till the whole V.A. mess gets straightened out.

    May 2, 2014 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  17. sambell1

    Why worry about minimum wage,extending unemployment insurance, creating jobs,fixing infrastructure, fixing the voting rights act, passing climate change legislation, immigration reform when you can spend 90% of the time of the house on figuring out why talking points were wrong on Meet The Press 2 years ago? Are these fools serious? Enough phony political scandals and get to work already!

    May 2, 2014 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  18. Robert

    Can you say another witch hunt?

    May 2, 2014 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  19. John

    When will there be an investigation of the 4,488 American soldiers in the Iraq War? Remember, that was the war over weapons of mass destruction that never existed?

    May 2, 2014 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  20. Rob

    More typical GOP tactics: Don't like the first several outcomes? The keep trying, its just tax dollars!

    May 2, 2014 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  21. slipperySlope

    During the 8 hours assault on the compound, the State Department issued a response on the Internet Video prepping their EXCUSE machine for the Sunday shows. Just because they didn't want to MAN up and admit they left those people to die, and did little to nothing to save them. BUT, they took extreme care to COVER THEIR BUTTS.
    They've now been caught telling a lie. Time to pay the Piper

    May 2, 2014 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  22. SteveS

    Politics as usual.
    Throw crap on the wall, and see how much will stick?

    May 2, 2014 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  23. Lynda/Minnesota

    "We are now witnessing Plan B(enghazi)."


    Lowercase just doesn't resonate the impact GOPerville is trying to convey to us.

    May 2, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  24. Robert

    Ladies and gentleman, I present you with the only agenda item to consume the whole of our government for the next two years...Benghazi (with occasional breaks to appeal the Affordable Care Act). Popcorn anyone? Let the drama begin.

    May 2, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  25. Yooper57

    Why doesn't he create Jobs committee or a infrastructure committee? The Repukes are dead in the water. Not a chance in heck they elect another POTUS for their party. Yikes he is stupid.

    May 2, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
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