The chairman of the House committee investigating the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 pushed back against claims that the probe targeting then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s handling of the attacks was politically motivated.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he has told Republican colleagues to “shut up talking about things that you don’t know anything about. And unless you’re on the committee, you have no idea what we have done, why we have done it and what new facts we have found.”
Clinton is slated to testify before the committee on Thursday. She called the panel”a partisan arm of the Republican National Committee” and said she did not know what to expect from Thursday’s hearing.
“I already testified about Benghazi. I testified to the best of my ability before the Senate and the House. I don’t know that I have very much to add,” Clinton said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “I will do my best to answer their questions, but I don’t really know what their objective is right now.”
Democrats have long accused the House Select Committee on Benghazi of carrying out a drawn-out, costly and overtly political investigation, but some of the more recent accusations have been leveled by Republicans themselves.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) suggested in a recent Fox News interview that the committee was formed to drive down Clinton’s poll numbers. Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) and Bradley F. Podliska, a former Republican staffer on the committee, also called the investigation politically motivated.
Gowdy said McCarthy, Hanna and Podliska are “three people who don’t have any idea what they’re talking about.”
He added that his position on the committee’s purpose has remained consistent: “Four dead Americans is more than enough work for me. She’s [Clinton] a witness. She was the secretary of state. You have to talk to her. But we have already talked to 50 people not named Clinton. We’re going to talk to another couple of dozen not named Clinton.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the top Democrat on the committee, remained skeptical of Gowdy’s comments.
“It’s interesting that after 17 months, $4.7 million and counting of taxpayer money, that Chairman Gowdy is now saying he has another two dozen witnesses to interview. It’s very interesting,” Cummings said on “Face the Nation.” “I do believe that what he has tried to do — I listened to him very carefully — he’s now trying to shift back to where we should have been all along. That is looking at the Benghazi incident. And it’s clear to me.”
On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a committee member, accused Republicans on the panel of leaking information to the media to embarrass Clinton. Cummings addressed the issue in a memo released Sunday, saying the committee has attempted to attack Clinton repeatedly over her use of a private e-mail server while at the State Department. Gowdy disputed the allegation in a memo and said he cares about Clinton’s e-mails “only to the extent that they relate to Libya and Benghazi.”
Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), a committee member, said the panel plans to ask Clinton “lots of questions” about the security failures at the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi. Pompeo defended Gowdy and the committee on NBC’s “Meet the Press”: “They [the public] will see that Chairman Gowdy and our committee has run a fact-centric effort to do the mission, to hold someone accountable for what happened on Sept. 11,” 2012.