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“One Reason To Think It May Be True”: Is #Benghazi The Real Motive Behind Jason Chaffetz’s Bid For House Speaker?

Notable among Rep. Trey Gowdy’s many egregious abuses of power as chair of the House Select Committee on Benghazi was his manic grilling of witness Sidney Blumenthal about Media Matters for America – which had everything to do with politics and Hillary Clinton and nothing to do with the tragic events of September 11, 2012.

As Gowdy’s pal Jason Chaffetz mounts a rump campaign for House Speaker against inadvertent truth-blurter Kevin McCarthy, that episode behind closed doors on Capitol Hill may have fresh significance. As he acknowledged in yesterday’s Washington Post, Gowdy remains furious with McCarthy for his now-infamous boast to Sean Hannity about the political motivations behind the committee’s long, expensive, redundant “investigation” (at least the eighth probe of the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three American colleagues in Benghazi):

“I heard from him at 6 a.m. the next morning…How many times can somebody apologize? Yes, he’s apologized as many times as a human can apologize. It doesn’t change it. It doesn’t fix it…

“Kevin is a friend, which makes the disappointment, frankly, even more bitter. If faith tells you to forgive somebody…It’s tough.”

Perhaps Gowdy is unable to forgive the blabbermouth McCarthy for ruining his charade – and perhaps he and his friend Chaffetz now think McCarthy is not quite bright enough to lead the House.

In that vein, it is worth nothing that according to my sources, Gowdy asked Blumenthal dozens of specific questions about a series of Media Matters posts that embarrassed Chaffetz in 2012 — one of which called attention to the hypocrisy of the Utah Republican for attacking Clinton and President Obama on Benghazi when he had voted to cut funding for embassy security. (Politico reported this line of questioning last June, but only mentioned the chairman by name once.)

Anxious to learn who wrote those mean posts about Chaffetz, Gowdy asked Blumenthal why he had called attention to them in an email to Clinton, and much more – even though none of those protected First Amendment activities bore the slightest relevance to the supposed concerns of the committee he chairs.

So is Chaffetz now running against McCarthy to avenge the infuriated Gowdy? He has denied it emphatically, which is only another reason to think it may be true.

 

By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, Editor’s Blog, The National Memo, October 7, 2015

October 9, 2015 Posted by | House Select Committee on Benghazi, Jason Chaffetz, Kevin McCarthy | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“There’s Nothing But Chaos In The Republican Ranks”: GOP Leader Shocks Colleagues, Withdraws From Speaker’s Race

Thirteen days ago, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) shocked the political world by announcing his plan to resign. This morning, Boehner’s successor followed up with a shock of his own.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has abruptly pulled out of the race for Speaker of the House on the same day that he was widely expected to be nominated for the position.

The nominating contest in the GOP conference set for Thursday afternoon in the House has been postponed.

There is a degree of irony to all of this: Benghazi didn’t bring down Hillary Clinton, but it did prevent Kevin McCarthy from becoming Speaker.

The California Republican faced two challengers for his party’s Speaker nomination, but by all appearances, he had the support he needed to go to the floor as his party’s official choice. As recently as last night, McCarthy’s bid was on track to move forward.

The problem was the looming floor vote on Oct. 29 – the opposition to his promotion from the far-right was significant and he faced a real challenge in pulling together 218 GOP votes.

Even if he prevailed, McCarthy would have immediately taken the gavel and become an even weaker Speaker than Boehner.

A week ago, the landscape seemed relatively clear. The GOP establishment had rallied behind McCarthy, and though there were some questions about the other top posts, we’d have a sense of the new Republican leadership team by this afternoon.

Now, however, there’s nothing but chaos in the Republican ranks. It’s reminiscent of late 1998, when then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) resigned in disgrace, and his successor, Speaker-designate Bob Livingston (R-La.), also had to resign in disgrace after a sex scandal came to light.

The difference now is, the only scandal is the radicalization of Republican politics.

So what happens now? All of the leadership elections that had been scheduled for today have been postponed. The date of the new elections is unclear. McCarthy reportedly intends to stay in Congress – indeed, he apparently wants to keep his Majority Leader position – though it seems everything is unsettled right now.

The party’s establishment will have to rally behind a new standard bearer, though no one has any idea who that might be. All eyes will, of course, quickly turn to Paul Ryan, but the far-right Wisconsin congressman reiterated again this morning that he does not want to be Speaker of the House.

Because House rules allow members to elect anyone for Speaker – including those who are not current lawmakers – don’t be too surprised if GOP officials start looking to potential leaders outside of Capitol Hill.

What’s more, let’s not discount the possibility that John Boehner himself may stick around, indefinitely, while the chaos continues, House Republicans turn on each other, the chamber unravels, and Congress struggles mightily to find a suitable leader.

Finally, I heard one rumor a short while ago, which is admittedly hard to believe, about some less-conservative Republicans turning to Democrats to try to elect a “coalition-style Speaker,” in a scheme that would disempower the chamber right-wing extremists.

It’s far-fetched, to be sure, but after the last 13 days, it’s now best to expect the unexpected.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 8, 2015

October 9, 2015 Posted by | GOP, House Republican Caucus, John Boehner, Kevin McCarthy | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Big Benghazi Backfire”: The “Alpha House” Portrayal Of A Politically Motivated Hatchet Job

In the life imitating art department, the hilariously funny Amazon series “Alpha House” has right wing Sen. Peg Stanchion (Janel Moloney) proposing a “permanent Benghazi Committee.” She also brings a loaded gun into the Capitol with a group of tea party supporters to brandish her support for the Second Amendment, shutting the Capitol down.

And now we have the speaker-to-be, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, admitting that the charade of eight investigations into Benghazi was keyed to bringing Hillary Clinton down. As they say, the truth comes out, not only that there was no conspiracy or wrongdoing on Benghazi but that the “Alpha House” portrayal of a politically motivated hatchet job was the goal all along.

Big surprise.

One thing that the hard-core Republicans know is that there is only one way to go after Hillary Clinton – make it personal. They know that they can not defeat her on the issues: who fights for the middle class; who favors comprehensive immigration reform; who supports expanding college education for working families; who has a plan for family and medical leave; who supports a higher minimum wage; who has a record of standing up for kids, their health and education. Make it about scandal, even if you have to make it up. Go negative early and often.

The Republicans know that the demographics are killing them: fewer and fewer angry white males, more and more diversity. How can they win a national election when they lose Hispanics, blacks and Asians by nearly three to one? How can they be a majority party when they are viewed as intolerant towards the GLBT community, when young people find their ideas old and tired, when women understand what being anti-women’s health and anti-Planned Parenthood really means?

So the Republicans in Congress continue to believe that Benghazi and Clinton’s emails are their ticket and they appropriate more money for investigations and create more committees to request more documents. The Benghazi probe has now lasted even longer than the investigation into Watergate.

The New York Times editorialized that it is time to shut down the Benghazi committee. It even suggested that the House Republicans “should rename their laughable crusade ‘the Inquisition of Hillary Rodham Clinton.'” Benghazi investigations have cost American taxpayers $4.6 million, more than critical committees, including the intelligence and veterans’ committees, according to the Times. All for one reason: to attack Hillary Clinton.

Of course, McCarthy’s statement tells it all: “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today?”

The sarcasm and humor of “Alpha House” and the Freedom Caucus imitation had it basically right. A permanent Benghazi committee (or at least one that lasts through the elections) may be what the real House Republicans were thinking!

But the American people are catching on. They get the joke that is suddenly not so funny. They are beginning to see the investigations for what they are: an effort to destroy the integrity, the character and the commitment of a serious and very capable public servant. This is not about issues or helping make our embassies more secure or serving the memories of those killed, it is a tawdry political trick.

The Benghazi investigations are backfiring and one can hope that on Oct. 22 when Hillary Clinton appears before the committee and the big lights and cameras go on, the American people will see what they saw so many year ago during the Army-McCarthy hearings. On June 9, 1954, after 30 days of hearings, the notorious Joseph McCarthy was confronted by the attorney Joseph Welch with these famous words: “Senator, you’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency.”

Decency, indeed.

 

By: Peter Fenn, U. S. News and World Report, October 7, 2015

October 8, 2015 Posted by | Benghazi, House Select Committee on Benghazi, Kevin McCarthy | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Death Rattle Of A Fake Scandal”: It Turns Out That The “Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy” Has Been Right In Front Of Our Eyes

To hardly anybody’s surprise, it turns out that the “vast right-wing conspiracy” has been right in front of our eyes. Always was, actually, as Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s politically disastrous on-air admission made plain. Or maybe you thought a seventh Benghazi investigation lasting as long as the Pearl Harbor and JFK assassination probes combined was exactly what America needed.

And no, McCarthy’s gaffe wasn’t wrung out of him by a trick question.

“The question I think you really want to ask me,” he volunteered to Fox News lunkhead Sean Hannity, “is how am I going to be different?”

As Speaker John Boehner’s presumed successor, that is.

McCarthy answered himself: “What you’re going to see is a conservative speaker that takes a conservative Congress that puts a strategy to fight and win. And let me give you one example. Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable.”

No, “untrustable” is not a word. But then words aren’t McCarthy’s strong point. His meaning, however, was clear enough. The man was bragging. The only purpose of the House Select Committee on Benghazi is to inflict political damage on the leading Democratic presidential contender.

Your tax dollars at work.

Never one to miss a chance, Hillary pounced on the Today show:

This committee was set up, as they have admitted, for the purpose of making a partisan, political issue out of the deaths of four Americans,” she said. “I would never have done that, and if I were president and there were Republicans or Democrats thinking about that, I would have done everything to shut it down.

Her campaign has already released a 30-second TV ad featuring McCarthy’s boasting. She added that having admitted the committee’s partisan agenda, Congress should shut it down. Everybody knows that’s not going to happen.

“Look,” Clinton added, “I’ve been around this whole ‘political situation’ for a long time, but some things are just beyond the pale. I’m happy to go, if it’s still in operation, to testify. But the real issue is what happened to four brave Americans.”

Chairman Gowdy would be well advised to invest in a pair of super-absorbent Depends when Hillary testifies before his committee on October 22. All he’s got is a handful of long-disproved conspiracy theories and selectively edited witness transcripts leaked to the news media to create a false impression.

So he’s an ex-federal prosecutor. Whoop-de-doo. Arkansas was overrun with them during the late Whitewater investigation. All but one of Kenneth Starr’s leak-o-matic staff turned out to be subpar trial lawyers. That one was clever enough to give a closing argument pointing out that Bill Clinton wasn’t on trial because the defendant — his former real estate partner — had swindled him and Hillary.

“The office of the Presidency of the United States,” he thundered “can’t be besmirched by people such as Jim McDougal.”

Any chance of prosecuting either Bill or Hillary over Whitewater pretty much ended right there in May 1996. (The whole story’s told in Joe Conason’s and my e-book The Hunting of Hillary, available for free from The National Memo.)

But no, of course it wasn’t in the newspaper because Washington scribes were stuck to Starr like ticks to a dog’s ear. He successfully diverted attention to subsequent Whitewater trials, every one of which they lost.

Until Bill Clinton bailed them out by taking his pants down in the Oval Office, that is.

But I digress. As the Washington Post‘s GOP-oriented columnist Kathleen Parker points out, Rep. McCarthy has “tried to cram the bad genie back into the bottle, but the damage has been done and can’t be undone….any previous suspicions that Republicans were just out to get Clinton have cleared the bar of reasonable doubt.”

Meanwhile, if Trey Gowdy doesn’t already know that Hillary Clinton’s a lot smarter and tougher than he is, he’s about to find out. Truthfully, they’d be better advised to fold the committee and file some weasel-worded report.

Then there’s our esteemed national news media, repeatedly burned by inaccurate leaks from Gowdy’s committee. The New York Times has run one phony exclusive after another. First, her famous emails were illegal, except they’re not. Then they were contrary to regulations enacted, oops, 18 months after she left office. Next Hillary was the subject of an FBI criminal probe. Except that too turned out to be false. Now they’re making a big deal out of the exact date she changed email addresses. Seriously.

And why? Because as Bill Clinton recently explained to Fareed Zakaria, they’re essentially fops and courtiers, “people who get bored talking about what’s your position on student loan relief or dealing with the shortage of mental health care or what to do with the epidemic of prescription drugs and heroin out in America, even in small towns of rural America.”

Any questions?

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, October 7, 2015

October 8, 2015 Posted by | Benghazi, House Select Committee on Benghazi, Kevin McCarthy | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Why Kevin McCarthy Will Be Worse Than Boehner”: Boehner Isn’t Going To Be Holding The Worst Speaker Title For Very Long

John Boehner has been far and away the worst speaker of the House of Representatives in many decades, presiding over the two least productive Congresses in modern American history, overseeing those endless and ridiculous Obamacare repeal votes, and most of all not having the stones to bring the immigration bill to the floor. It would have passed any day he chose to let that happen, which at least would have given the newspapers one positive item to include in the lead paragraph of his obituary when the time comes.

But from the looks of things, Boehner isn’t going to be holding the worst speaker title for very long.

There was a time in this country when the speaker of the House thought of himself more as a servant of the entire country. He’s called speaker of the House, after all, not speaker of a certain party in the House. He was third in line for the presidency, which meant he needed to hold the idea in the back of his mind that someday, he might be called upon to run the country under circumstances that would inevitably be tragic, thus requiring that he not be seen as too partisan a figure.

It was norms and traditions like these that led Democratic Speaker John McCormack, who ran the House in the 1960s, to say after Richard Nixon’s election that “direct confrontation between Congress and the president is going to be harmful to the country and should be avoided if possible.”

Boehner hardly had a single McCormack cell in his body. But compared to Kevin McCarthy, he’s a virtual David Broder. You know of course by now what McCarthy said about the true nature of the Benghazi committee. But what you may not know, if you’re just relying on news accounts that snipped the quote, is the full context in which he said it. Usually, the full context of comments reproduced in news snippets has a way of making them not as bad as they first seemed. But here, the context makes McCarthy’s words far worse. See for yourself:

HANNITY: But in February didn’t you guys end up funding it, you passed the “crum-nibus,” you gave up your leverage.

MCCARTHY: No, no. Sean, no, because the courts had put a stay on that. So there was no funding going towards that. The question I think you really want to ask me is, how am I going to be different?

HANNITY: I love how you asked my questions. But go ahead, that is one of my questions. Go right ahead.

MCCARTHY: I knew you’d want to ask it. What you’re going to see is a conservative speaker that takes a conservative Congress that puts a strategy to fight and win.

And let me give you one example. Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s un-trustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened—

In other words, he and Hannity were having an exchange about substance—about how Republicans had failed, from Hannity’s point of view, to control spending, defund Obamacare, defund the president’s executive orders on immigration. Then McCarthy volunteers that he will be different. And how will he be different? Not by controlling spending or defunding Obamacare or Obama’s immigration initiatives. By being more political and more partisan!

And anyway, why is the Benghazi committee a relevant example of how McCarthy is going to be different from Boehner? Has he been some secret power behind the whole thing from the start, like Akim Tamiroff in The Great McGinty, calling the shots, telling Trey Gowdy whom to depose and badger with nine hours’ worth of questions that have nothing to do with the deaths of Chris Stevens and other three Americans? It would be very interesting, I think, for America’s taxpayers, on the hook here for $4.6 million so far, to know whether the next speaker has been the Rasputin behind Gowdy’s little throne.

That McCarthy would say this reveals to us that he doesn’t remotely think that the American people are a constituency with which he need concern himself. The constituencies that concern him are Hannity, Fox viewers, and conservatives. Not even all Republicans, some of whom are reasonable human beings who do not wish for perpetual political war. Only all highly partisan conservatives. This is the man who’ll be presiding over the people’s chamber. People think Donald Trump is a farce, and he is, but he’s no worse a farce than this.

Meanwhile, what can Hillary Clinton and the Democrats do with this egregious statement? Probably not as much as they’d like, alas. Wednesday, in the wake of McCarthy’s comments (uttered Tuesday night), there was some discussion among Benghazi committee Democrats about whether they shouldn’t just end the whole charade, or at least their part in it, by boycotting any remaining proceedings.

That sounds great on the surface, but remember that Clinton is testifying on Oct. 22. The committee’s ranking Democrat, Elijah Cummings, is apparently of the view that leaving Clinton to fend for herself in a committee room full of Republicans is a really bad idea, so he’s going to make sure the Democrats are there that day to pull the reins on Republicans when they start galloping off into fantasy land. A boycott would be emotionally satisfying, but Cummings is right. Clinton has to be broadly seen as winning that showdown to start putting this mess behind her, and she probably can’t do that without Democrats in the room.

So my guess is that McCarthy’s statement may not do the damage to him or his party that it so richly deserves to. But if you’ve read this deeply into this column, I hope that you, at least, care. This is not just about Clinton and the next election. This is about customs and norms that once kept this government functioning (admittedly sometimes better than other times, but functioning).

But those customs and norms have been under assault for two decades. Newt Gingrich wounded them. Tom DeLay and Denny Hastert, that great American now desperately negotiating a plea bargain so that Americans never learn the details about his career as a “wrestling coach,” killed them. John Boehner pissed on their corpse. And Kevin McCarthy looks like the guy who’s going to set the corpse on fire.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, October 2, 2015

October 3, 2015 Posted by | House Republicans, John Boehner, Kevin McCarthy | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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