South Carolina Representative Trey Gowdy, a member of the House of
Representatives Oversight Committee, will lead a new panel
investigating the attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi,
"I know he shares my commitment to get to the bottom of this tragedy
and will not tolerate any stonewalling from the Obama
administration," House Speaker John Boehner said in announcing Gowdy
as his pick as chairman of the select committee.
Asked by Fox News interviewer Greta Van Susteren how the panel would
differ from all the other congressional hearings on Benghazi, Gowdy
said the investigations so far had been fragmented.
"You can't draw conclusions if you don't have all the facts, and
what this committee is going to do is once and for all lay out all
the facts," Gowdy said.
Boehner had announced he was forming the panel on Friday, the same
day the Oversight Committee announced a rare subpoena of a Cabinet
official, Secretary of State John Kerry, to testify about Benghazi.
The State Department said on Monday it was still looking into
whether Kerry would appear on May 21 as demanded. He is scheduled to
be in Mexico on that date.
Republicans accuse President Barack Obama's administration of doing
too little to repulse the attack and then misleading Americans out
of fear Benghazi would tarnish his record as he ran for re-election
in November 2012.
A White House spokesman declined to answer directly whether it would
cooperate with the Gowdy panel. While saying the White House had in
the past cooperated with "legitimate" probes, spokesman Jay Carney
told a news briefing it was highly questionable whether the most
recent inquiry was legitimate.
Democrats accuse Republicans of using the incident for political
purposes, with an eye toward discrediting then-Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton, considered a likely Democratic presidential
candidate in 2016.
Eight different congressional committees have investigated the
events in Benghazi, holding more than a dozen hearings and 50
briefings, and examining 25,000 pages of documents.
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Representative Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said on
Monday that Democrats had not yet decided whether they would
participate in the special committee because they had not received
details of the Republicans' plans.
He said, however, that his party's leaders would vote against the
resolution to form the committee and urge members to vote no.
"We're going to spend taxpayer money for something that they've
already spent taxpayer money to do, and that is investigate the
circumstances surrounding the tragic loss of life of four Americans,
including a very respected ambassador. That was appropriate to do,"
"Our view is that we've done that. We don't believe the
administration covered up and we believe that this is political
only," Hoyer added.
Gowdy urged Democrats: "At least, let us have a hearing before you
judge it. At least, let the committee be constituted and the rules
be adopted before you declare it to be a political exercise."
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Additional reporting by Lesley
Wroughton, Mark Felsenthal and Peter Cooney; Editing by G Crosse,
Bernadette Baum and Mohammad Zargham)
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