House Republicans have decided to create a select committee to investigate the State Department’s handling of the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi.
Today, House Speaker John Boehner announced that Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) will lead that committee:
“Trey Gowdy is as dogged, focused, and serious-minded as they come. His background as a federal prosecutor and his zeal for the truth make him the ideal person to lead this panel.
I know he shares my commitment to get to the bottom of this tragedy and will not tolerate any stonewalling from the Obama administration. I plan to ensure he and his committee have the strongest authority possible to root out all the facts. This is a big job, but Rep. Gowdy has the confidence of this conference, and I know his professionalism and grit will earn him the respect of the American people.”
Gowdy is a second-term lawmaker, a former district attorney and federal prosecutor, and a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He’s known for his fiery and fearless approach to questioning during Congressional hearings.
He also is the writer and sponsor of the ENFORCE the Law Act, which passed the House 233-181. The bill says that when either the House or Senate passes a resolution finding that a president is failing to execute a law, lawmakers will have legal standing to sue in federal court, with a speedy appeal to the Supreme Court.
Here’s his floor speech on the ENFORCE the Law Act:
Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-CA), who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee which has led multiple probes (consisting of 13 hearings, 25,000 pages of documents, and 50 briefings) into the handling of the Benghazi attack, praised Gowdy’s selection:
“Speaker Boehner could not have chosen a Member more committed to getting the full truth about the before, during, and after of the Benghazi terrorist attacks,” Issa said in a statement. “Trey has been an integral contributor to the Oversight Committee investigation and takes the knowledge we have gained, through subpoenas and individual testimony, to his new role leading the new Select Committee.”
Politico points out how the new probe may impact upcoming elections:
One thing is for certain: The Gowdy probe will last into the fall — keeping Benghazi in the news for the 2014 midterm elections. And it can serve to tarnish Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s name ahead of a potential 2016 presidential bid, though there’s no guarantee it will work.
Last week, Issa issued a subpoena to Secretary of State John Kerry to find out why the State Department has failed to turn over documents sought by his committee. Many Democrats and Republicans say a subpoena to Clinton is likely forthcoming as well, and would get huge media coverage.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who has played a high-profile role in the Benghazi probe via his seat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, explained the purpose of the select committee:
“The speaker has been extraordinarily patient, but it is clear the Obama administration is playing games. The focus of the committee should simply be to find the truth. It is out there, but the House is going to have to pry it out of the White House. The four investigating committees have done a good job finding parts of the truth. A select committee should bring it all together and find all the truth.”
In a statement, Gowdy said he was “honored” to serve as chairman and said the following about the investigation:
“While people are free to draw different conclusions from the facts, there should be no debate over whether the American public is entitled to have all of the facts.
Well, I have evidence that not only are they hiding [Benghazi information], there is an intent to hide it. I can’t disclose that evidence yet, but I have evidence that there was a systematic, intentional decision to withhold certain documents from Congress…and we’re just sick of it.”
Just last week, the watchdog group Judicial Watch announced that they obtained 41 new Benghazi-related documents, including emails that showed the White House’s involvement in crafting talking points Susan Rice.
Of course, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney disputed the need for another investigation, saying Monday that Congress is “not short” on these kinds of probes:
“You know at some point you just have to assume Republicans will continue this because it feeds a political objective of some sort.”
Perhaps the White House should be getting nervous. Gowdy is known for being tenacious and aggressive, as Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-TN, who sits next to Gowdy on the oversight committee, explains:
“Gowdy has the respect of both Republicans and Democrats and will be trusted to get to the truth.”
Once Gowdy gets started, “it’s hard to hide from the question,” DesJarlais said. “Politicians and witnesses sometimes are trained to give evasive answers. He has an innate ability to evoke the truth.”
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