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“Wine Wednesday’s”: The Tide Turns Against The Benghazi Committee

Could this be the time when Benghazi finally turned from a liability to an asset for Hillary Clinton? If so, it’ll be because the issue has now become less about what the select committee Republicans set up to investigate the matter has found, and more about the committee itself.

Perhaps this would have happened even if House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) hadn’t admitted two weeks ago what everyone already knew, that the driving purpose of the select committee was to harm Hillary Clinton’s political prospects. That one statement has had a remarkable political impact, torpedoing McCarthy’s bid to become speaker of the House, giving Clinton the opportunity to start attacking the committee in ads, and apparently making lots of people in the press decide that the time has finally come to start taking a serious look at what this committee has been doing for the last 17 months.

No news outlet in America has been more fervent in its pursuit of Hillary Clinton than the New York Times, but take a look at this article on their front page today, about how the select committee has all but abandoned Benghazi to focus almost entirely on trying to find something damaging on Hillary Clinton:

The committee has conducted only one of a dozen interviews that [committee chairman Rep. Trey] Gowdy said in February that he planned to hold with prominent intelligence, Defense Department and White House officials, and it has held none of the nine public hearings — with titles such as “Why Were We in Libya?” — that internal documents show have been proposed.

At the same time, the committee has added at least 18 current and former State Department officials to its roster of witnesses, including three speechwriters and an information technology specialist who maintained Mrs. Clinton’s private email server.

Add to that the story of Bradley Podliska, the former committee staffer who is suing the committee, saying he was unjustifiably fired for, among other things, serving his Air Force reserve duty and seeking to continue investigating Benghazi when the committee turned all its attention to Clinton’s e-mails. (Gowdy denies Podliska’s claims.)

When John Boehner created this committee a year and a half ago, he was insistent that there was nothing partisan about it, and pointed to the appointment of Gowdy, a former prosecutor, as proof that the investigation would be serious and substantive. I was skeptical at the time about how much sober professionalism Gowdy would bring to the proceedings — his principal qualification seemed to be an eagerness to shout angrily at witnesses during hearings — and nothing that has happened since has proved me wrong. The Times story is full of juicy details about the committee’s work, or lack thereof (“Wine Wednesdays” sounds like fun), and contains this interesting tidbit:

Mr. Gowdy said in the interview last week that he had pressed Mr. Boehner to have another House committee examine the matter of Mrs. Clinton’s emails, but that Mr. Boehner had rejected the request.

“I would have liked nothing more than for the speaker to find another committee,” Mr. Gowdy said.

Senior Republican officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing confidential conversations, said that Mr. Boehner had long been suspicious of the administration’s handling of the attacks and that Mrs. Clinton’s emails gave him a way to keep the issue alive and to cause political problems for her campaign. But he thought that the task was too delicate to entrust to others and that it should remain with Mr. Gowdy, the former prosecutor.

That’s significant because not only are Democrats talking to reporters about why this committee is a mess, Republicans are too. Any time you see a passage like this, with competing interpretations of what’s going on behind the scenes, it’s a good bet that people are maneuvering to shape public perception to their advantage, and it can become a little hard to know for certain where the truth lies. But it looks like Gowdy, perhaps with the help of allies, is trying to say, Look, this mess isn’t my fault, it’s Boehner’s.

Maybe it was inevitable that this committee would become either a joke or a scandal in its own right, given the fact that it was established after seven separate investigations had already examined the events of September 11, 2012 in Benghazi and failed to find any administration wrongdoing or support for all the outlandish conspiracy theories conservatives had clung to. In the future, when asked about what the select committee accomplished, Republicans will probably say, “They discovered Clinton’s e-mails!” And that’s true. But what does that represent, substantively speaking?

Was there something in those e-mails that told America what really happened in Benghazi? No. Was there something in those e-mails that finally proved the scope of Hillary Clinton’s villainy? No. I’m not trying to defend Clinton’s use of a private e-mail account, but about the most shocking thing we’ve learned from the actual e-mails is that Clinton, like every other person on the planet with an e-mail address, got phishing spam, a revelation that when leaked to the press was passed along with lots of “Clinton E-mail Targeted By Russian Hackers!” headlines.

But what we haven’t learned is anything new that the committee has discovered about — now see if you can follow me here — Benghazi. That was, you may recall, the whole point of this exercise. So what has Gowdy’s committee found that all the previous investigations didn’t? Anything at all? What do we now know about what happened on that night that we didn’t know before?

The answer so far is: nothing. Now maybe if they take another 17 months and another few million dollars, they’ll finally blow the lid off the conspiracy. But if they’re trying to argue that the committee exists only to learn the whole story about Benghazi, then it has clearly been a failure. If the committee exists only to hurt Clinton, as Democrats have been saying all along and now even some Republicans admit, then it may turn out to be a failure on that score as well.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, October 12, 2015

October 15, 2015 - Posted by | Benghazi, House Select Committee on Benghazi, John Boehner, Trey Gowdy | , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. Eventually the truth comes out and it will harm the purveyor of the misinformation. But, this has never been about Benghazi, as if it were they would have stopped last year.

    Like

    Comment by Keith | October 15, 2015 | Reply

  2. Is there a back story on new York Times’ relentless pursuit of Hillary ? I hear The Washington Post is not far behind ? What’s going on with that woman Maureen dowd ? I saw her once on MSNBC , and she was nasty !

    Like

    Comment by renxkyoko | October 15, 2015 | Reply

    • Maureen Dowd hasn’t changed a bit. She remains “holier than thou” and is just as nasty as ever.

      Like

      Comment by raemd95 | October 15, 2015 | Reply


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