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. Brian

    @The

    I havent seen even one person here claming what you are so outraged about. Who are you talking to??

    May 2, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  2. Malory Archer

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

    ++++++++++++++++

    Wow tom – you really showed him! why, II haven't heard discourse like that since... since..... since junior high school! Your little clique must be high fiving one another on your school bus ride home.

    May 2, 2014 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  3. dan

    go ahead demos change the subject

    May 2, 2014 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  4. mathlogic

    @think again
    You are correct. The Democrats need to get out and vote come November. Between now and then we can volunteer on phone lines (You can use your computer to call from home) and call voters and get them out. This is a non presidential year election where voter turnout is normally low. The republicans keep throwing out the red meat to get their voters motivated and many of them will come out- despite being the ones that are hurt most by the republican policies. We need greater numbers than the republicans have, It may come down to one vote that makes the difference whether republicans control the Senate as well as the House.

    May 2, 2014 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  5. qsmurf

    Conservative distraction tactics and sideshow "panels" as usual.

    These people have no clue how to fix any of our problems so the best they can come up with is to go on the attack over something that's been blown out of proportion....by them, for purely political reasons.

    Keep digging that hole conservatives, it's getting close to the point that you will not be able to climb out anymore.

    May 2, 2014 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  6. jinx9to88

    7 embassies were attacked under Bush and not one Republican organized a "Committee". GOP are nothing more than a big joke!!!

    May 2, 2014 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  7. 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!

    May 2, 2014 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  8. George

    So let me get this straight, we justify inaction of Obama's failures on foreign policy Bush's failed foreign policies, which I submit lost him the Senate and House majorities to begin with. At least the the Democrats got that and the Republican's got their oil war. But to sit there and give Obama a pass for the death's of American citizens during what was clearly an administration ran by campaign officials is insane. At what point to we as American citizens quit 'rooting for our team', move to the middle and call liars and cheats what they are and do something about it. It's like our football team's quarterback may have been busted with a DUI but we'll give him a pass because he's OUR quarterback. Come on America!

    May 2, 2014 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  9. KBNJ

    Based on the comments here, you'd think most of the country LIKES being lied to by the POTUS.
    Fortunately, some of us actually CARE.

    May 2, 2014 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  10. GODZILLA1

    All this amounts to is a preliminary bout to set up impeachment for the President if the GOP grabs control of both the House and the Senate.

    May 2, 2014 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  11. Doug

    I find all the reopen 911 investigations about Bush blah blah quite interesting. I agree, they should, but this Benghazi issue goes beyond political lines. There are basic principles that should apply across all government. Do you mean to tell me that you think it's okay that the WH has done this because Bush committed atrocities? For the record, it's those atrocities that led to Obama coming into office; lord knows it wasn't his experience. I know I voted for Obama because of it. But just because Bush did bad things means either Obama can or bad things or that we just shouldn't care? What has either party done to obtain such loyalty??? Forget what Bush did, or any president before him, if you're okay with blatantly lying to the American people about the death's of American people in a terrorist attack in order to protect one man's own political career....I guess you can call yourself a democrat, religiously, but you're far from a credible American citizen.

    May 2, 2014 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  12. Bridge Cover-up v. Benghazi

    Do you remember the Democrat outcry when Valarie Plame was disclosed to be a CIA agent. Now the fact that she was the ambassador's wife would seem to make it apparent to all that she might pass at least some information to the US Gov't, but the Democrats said that we should be incensed. Those SAME DEMOCRATS are now incensed that we would have concern when four employees of the US Gov't s were killed in a foreseeable attack an then a president and his people lied for pure political reasons. Instead, they now want us to focus on the closure of lanes on a bridge

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

    I find all the reopen 911 investigations about Bush blah blah quite interesting. I agree, they should, but this Benghazi issue goes beyond political lines. There are basic principles that should apply across all government. Do you mean to tell me that you think it's okay that the WH has done this because Bush committed atrocities? For the record, it's those atrocities that led to Obama coming into office; everyone knows it wasn't his experience. I know I voted for Obama because of it. But just because Bush did bad things means either Obama can or bad things or that we just shouldn't care? What has either party done to obtain such loyalty??? Forget what Bush did, or any president before him, if you're okay with blatantly lying to the American people about the death's of American people in a terrorist attack in order to protect one man's own political career....I guess you can call yourself a democrat, religiously, but you're far from a credible American citizen

    May 2, 2014 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  14. Jim

    The GOP is desperate if they're still beating this dead horse.

    May 2, 2014 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  15. Iamnotfooled

    This is R I D I C U L O U S!

    May 2, 2014 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  16. jane

    How's about Mr. Boehner put down the Scotch bottle, move his ass over to the House and actually do something productive for this country which is paying him handsomely to do NOTHING....

    May 2, 2014 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  17. jinx9to88

    @ 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?

    -------

    GOP don't want to here the truth. 7 embassies were attacked under the 3 stooges that were in charge between 2000 – 2008. GOP are just pathetic.

    May 2, 2014 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  18. Bob

    Good job Boehner, maybe you can form a panel to help you decide which is best spray tan for you too! When will the GOP toolboxes let it go and move on to a more worthwhile agenda? Idiots!

    May 2, 2014 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  19. navaJohn

    When the people say they want Congress to get stuff done, creating a witch-hunt committee wasn't what we had in mind, Boehner.

    May 2, 2014 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  20. Trent

    Looks like the GOP is trying to deflect attention away from the economy.

    May 2, 2014 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  21. Hey

    *************13 Benghazis's under Bush.****************

    (*Crickets)

    May 2, 2014 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  22. robert

    Too many deflectors, apologists, party-liners. Regardless of your side of the fence, it isn't about failed intel. I for one am not blaming President Obama for the attack. How could he know? Just like how could President Bush know about the other embassy attacks if the intel wasn't delivered? The problem is that, 6 weeks before an election, we were lied to. The President was running on a National Security platform and, in fact, criticizing Romney's experience. Then we have this terrorist attack that was blamed on a video until AFTER the elections. Seems disingenuous at best. We are all supposed to be Americans first, Dem or Rep second. If we continue to let ANY government lie to us, then we deserve what we get... BS.
    PS: how about we start going back to showing the Office of the President some respect and calling the current resident 'President', not just by their last name, regardless of who sits in the chair?

    May 2, 2014 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  23. MarcNJ

    Stop wasting our tax money.

    May 2, 2014 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  24. Blue Alliance

    This will give them something to do, since it's a given that anything with Obama's name on it will be obstructed in congress. The GOP will do ANYTHING to gain power and this is all part of that......cast doubt on Hillary and smear Obama's legacy.

    May 2, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  25. jaydavid666

    Right before the midterm elections.
    Sounds like Boehner wants to help America.
    This can't possibly be a cynical ploy intended to hurt Obama.
    That would hurt our entire country.
    And Boehner doens't want that.

    May 2, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
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