House Benghazi Investigation Seems More Concerned With 2016 Than Investigating Anything

Not surprisingly, the House Committee re-investigating the Benghazi attack seems more concerned with scoring political points than fact-finding.

Benghazi Consulate

The Hill notes that the House Select Committee that was formed to investigate, yet again, the attack on the American diplomatic outpost in Benghazi in September 2012 is taking it time in such a deliberately slow manner that it’s obvious that Republicans want to keep the issue around through the 2016 elections:

Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has agreed to testify before the Benghazi committee this month but don’t expect Republicans to be satisfied with her appearance.

House Republicans have now spent a full year investigating the 2012 terrorist attacks in Libya — including whether any of the former secretary of State’s actions may have contributed to the incident — and there are few indications there will be a speedy conclusion to their inquiries.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi, signaled he’s prepared to drag out his investigation well into 2016 if Clinton and the Obama administration continue to stonewall his requests for documents and answers.

That would mean the probe would not conclude until the homestretch of Clinton’s long campaign for the White House.

“Chairman Gowdy said early on in this investigation that there is no statute of limitations on the truth. Our job is to get to the truth,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a leading House conservative who serves on the Benghazi panel, told The Hill. “I wish we could already be there but based on the way this administration has conducted themselves has just made it difficult.

“They’re the ones who’ve been driving the pace and the timing of all this.”

So far, there’s no agreement on when exactly Clinton would appear on Capitol Hill. In an interim report on of the Benghazi committee’s first year of work, Gowdy wrote Friday that the panel would call Clinton to testify once she and the State Department had provided all relevant information.

Since Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) created the Benghazi committee a year ago this week, the panel has adopted a go-slow approach. Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, has been thorough and methodical, while being careful not to make his investigation appear too overtly political or partisan.

When the committee discovered that Clinton had used a personal email account while leading the State Department, Gowdy called for her to turn over her email server to the agency’s inspector general or another neutral third party, GOP aides noted. That way an independent arbiter could separate the private emails from the public ones.

“The goal here is not pomp and circumstance or show hearings,” said a GOP leadership aide familiar with the investigation. “The goal is to get facts and a full and complete record of what happened before, during and after the attack. And that is the mandate Gowdy has steadfastly pursued.”

But Republicans are also fully aware the investigative panel — and the Benghazi issue in general — is proving to be a major political headache for the 2016 presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. Boehner, whom Gowdy briefed last week on the Benghazi probe, has used recent news conferences to bring attention to the Clinton email scandal.

“Of course this is all detrimental to her political ambitions,” said one House GOP lawmaker.

None of this should come as much of a surprise, of course. As I noted when the committee was first formed, it was apparent that its purpose was far more partisan than investigatory, especially given the fact that several Congressional Committees had already investigated the circumstances surrounding the attack. In fact, it was apparent even when the committee was formed a year ago that its hearings would likely last through 2016, something that was seemingly confirmed last month when it was announced that the committee’s final report should not be expected until some time well into 2016 . Added into all this, of course, is the fact that none of the previous investigations have found any of the kind of wrongdoing or deliberate decisions not to act to stop the attack that conservatives have been alleging for the better part of the past two years. This includes a rather thorough investigation by he House Intelligence Committee, that debunked the major conspiracy theories surrounding the Administration’s actions before, during, and after the attack, and concluded that there was “no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.”

To a large degree, of course, the committee was energized to some extent by the revelations regarding Clinton’s use of a private email server during the time that she served as Secretary of State, and the revelation that tens of thousands of emails were deleted after she left office because she deemed them to be unrelated to State Department business. Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, along with Speaker Boehner and other members of Republican leadership have called on Clinton to make the server itself available to the committee for investigation, but it’s been made fairly clear by Clinton’s representatives that she would not be doing so. As a result, it appears likely that the House will eventually vote to issue a subpoena for the server since the committee apparently lacks the authority to do that on its own. At that point, presuming Clinton fails to comply, we will likely be headed into a showdown in Federal Court over the propriety of the subpoena that will be cited as a reason to further delay the committee’s work and stretch the matter even further into 2016. In other words, it’s a virtual guarantee that the investigation will still be going on, and will likely hit some kind of crescendo, just in time for the 2016 General Election.

What’s unclear is whether all of this attention on Benghazi, and by extension on the issue of the email server and other issues, will have a real impact on the 2016 race in general or Clinton in particular. At the very least, it does appear that the issue has resonated with the voters and become something about Clinton that concerns them. An ABC/Washington Post Poll from last June, for example, found that 50% of Americans disapproved of Clinton’s handling of the attacks but it did not appear at that time to have any real impact on either their opinion of her as a leader or as someone who could be trusted to be honest. A Quinnipiac poll from roughly a year earlier l,found similar numbers, and also found that Clinton’s handling of the attack had had a negative impact on her favorability rating. More recently, polling from the Associated Press and Quinnipiac has shown that Clinton’s trustiworthiness among voters has suffered significantly due, it seems to the combined impact of, Benghazi, the email story, and the new revelations about the Clinton Foundation. Despite all of that, though, Clinton continues to lead in both the Democratic nomination and in head-to-head matchups against her prospective Republican opponents. Perhaps Benghazi and all these issues will become a problem for Clinton as the race goes on, but there’s no evidence of it happening just yet. Given that, Republicans who think spending the next year talking about Benghazi even though there’s nothing new to talk about are most likely wasting their time.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Congress, Hillary Clinton, National Security, Politicians, Terrorism, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Rob Prather says:

    I must admit I wasn’t politically aware at the time, but I remember no such scuffle when the Beirut Barracks bombing occurred. Is it possible that this is simply political and the proponents don’t care at all about the dead in Banghazi?

  2. Rob Prather says:

    *Benghazi

  3. HarvardLaw92 says:

    In other news, water remains wet

  4. JohnMcC says:

    Benghazi will be article one in the Impeachment.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    More Concerned With 2016 Than Investigating Anything

    You think?

  6. Pete S says:

    Are there any low information voters out there who really haven’t heard about Benghazi yet? It has been a central made up issue in two election cycles already. What is the upside for Republicans here? They are playing to a group who wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton under any circumstances. Are their dupes I mean supporters still responding to the fundraising e-mails?

  7. Neil Hudelson says:

    My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims of the Benghazi attack, who have had to witness three–going on four–years of Republicans continuously using their deceased family members as a political weapon. I cant’ imagine what it must be like to see monthly reminders of the tragedy that killed your loved one, simply so Republicans can lose by 19 points to Hillary instead of 20 points.

  8. stonetools says:

    Completely OT , but this story perfectly encapsulates Republican idiocy on Obamacare:


    Luis Lang needs an expensive eye operation to save his eyesight. But he can’t afford it, can’t get covered for the procedure and he blames President Obama and his over-complicated ACA legislation.

    As the Charlotte Observer explains, Lang is a self-employed handyman who works as a contractor with banks and the federal government to maintain foreclosed properties. He was making a decent living, enough to be the sole breadwinner in the family. As the Observer puts it, Lang “he has never bought insurance. Instead, he says, he prided himself on paying his own medical bills.”

    All seemed good until this February when a series of headaches led him to the doctor. Tests revealed that Lang had suffered a series of mini-strokes tied to diabetes. (It’s not clear to me from the piece whether Lang knew he had diabetes earlier or whether that was the diabetes diagnosis as well.) He now also has a partially detached retina and eye bleeding tied to his diabetes. The initial medical care for the mini-strokes ran to almost $10,000 and burned through his savings. And now he can’t work because of his eye issue and can’t afford the surgery that would save his eyesight and also allowing him to continue working.

    That’s where we pick up the narrative from the Observer …

    That’s when he turned to the Affordable Care Act exchange. Lang learned two things: First, 2015 enrollment had closed earlier that month. And second, because his income has dried up, he earns too little to get a federal subsidy to buy a private policy.

    Lang, a Republican, says he knew the act required him to get coverage but he chose not to do so. But he thought help would be available in an emergency. He and his wife blame President Obama and Congressional Democrats for passing a complex and flawed bill.

    “(My husband) should be at the front of the line because he doesn’t work and because he has medical issues,” Mary Lang said last week. “We call it the Not Fair Health Care Act.”

    Since Lang now has no income, he should be eligible for the ACA’s expanded Medicaid coverage, for which the federal government picks up tab. But Lang lives in Fort Mill, South Carolina. And South Carolina refused to accept Medicaid expansion. So he’s out of luck on that front too.

    I’m doing my best to summon up sympathy for this guy, but no go….

  9. Gustopher says:

    @stonetools: I can manage sympathy. His own stupidity, and the stupidity of his party, has likely left him permanently blind in one eye.

    Poor guy.

    Ok, I’m done.

  10. gVOR08 says:

    @stonetools: I can manage a fair amount of sympathy. He’s basically a victim of the Mighty Right Wing Wurlitzer. The Conservative Echo Chamber lied to him and discouraged him from signing up. In a just world, FOX would have to pony up for his medical costs.

  11. humanoid.panda says:

    In other shocking news, there seems to be some gambling going on in Rick’s establishment!

  12. humanoid.panda says:

    @gVOR08: I would have a world of sympathy for him ,if it wasn’t for his wife saying that he should be a the top of the line, because he is not working and is ill. What are the odds that this family spent every waking moment despising moochers and welfare bums until he got sick, and now thinks the reason that he can’t get insurance is because Obama is spending all the money on THEM? This is not misinformation: that’s a profoundly sociopathic view of the universe.

  13. Pete S says:

    @gVOR08: He knew the law required him to get insurance and he made a conscious decision not to. That is not misinformation, and I doubt he would feel much sympathy for someone choosing to not follow a law he supports.

  14. stonetools says:

    It’s said that a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged. Well, apparently, a liberal is a conservative who gets seriously ill. The wife is now all “Obama come save us, and be quick about it!”

    I say she should send her medical bills straight to the governor and senators of South Carolina.

    What are the odds that this family spent every waking moment despising moochers and welfare bums until he got sick, and now thinks the reason that he can’t get insurance is because Obama is spending all the money on THEM? This is not misinformation: that’s a profoundly sociopathic view of the universe.

    Yup. Reminds me of the famous libertarian , Ayn Rand, who railed against government help for the poor and unfortunate-till she got cancer in her old age and ended up on Medicare and Social Security.

  15. al-Ameda says:

    @stonetools:

    Lang, a Republican, says he knew the act required him to get coverage but he chose not to do so. But he thought help would be available in an emergency. He and his wife blame President Obama and Congressional Democrats for passing a complex and flawed bill.

    So, he blames Obama because he (Mr. Lang) thought that ACA was flawed and complex legislation, therefore, he was just going to wait until the federal government bailed him out when circumstances required that.

    This is the Republican idiocracy in action.

  16. C. Clavin says:

    the House Committee re-investigating the Benghazi attack seems more concerned with scoring political points than fact-finding.

    You don’t say…

  17. Anjin-San says:

    Lang is a perfect microcausim of modern conservative politics. He outsourced his thinking to the right wing media, willfully (and probably with a great deal of self-rightneousness) broke the law, and bet his health on the flawed assumption that if worse came to worse, there would be some sort of rescue available to him. Now that the consequences of his failure to take personal responsibility have arrived, he blames the guy who tried to help him.

  18. Tyrell says:

    Forget these hearings. It is high time to get the trial going for those responsible for this travesty. I know they only have one person in custody, but the trial needs to proceed.
    That kook in the photo should be easy to identify.

  19. Gromitt Gunn says:

    He’s basicaly the guy in that joke who ignores all of the first responders trying to save him from his flooded house and then, after he drowns, blames God for not sending help.

  20. JohnMcC says:

    @stonetools: Here’s a you-tube with the self-explanatory title;

    This Tea Party Patriot May Vote For Hillary
    (because he is afraid of losing his health insurance
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNfo0o7ay7A

  21. rachel says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: That’s exactly what I thought of too.

  22. James Pearce says:

    @Tyrell:

    It is high time to get the trial going for those responsible for this travesty. I know they only have one person in custody, but the trial needs to proceed.

    This is a good point. Obama promised justice. Has it been dispensed and we haven’t heard about it because for so long anything BENGHAZI! was just goofball material?

    Or has justice not been dispensed?

  23. C. Clavin says:

    Where’s Jenos “BenGHazi!!!!” Indiana Jones????

  24. C. Clavin says:
  25. Matt says:

    @Tyrell: Well they did disband the militias involved

  26. Tyrell says:

    @Neil Hudelson: They are also having to live with 3+ years of no one being brought to justice for the murders and attack on a US embassy. That is what Congress needs to be looking into. A trial should have already been held. What is the hold up?

  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tyrell: May I assume your anger extends to the travesty of justice that is Gitmo? That abortion has been going on for 14 (?) yrs and not one single person has been convicted in the military “tribunals”.***

    ***Tribunal: a court of justice.

  28. Barry says:

    @Tyrell: “They are also having to live with 3+ years of no one being brought to justice for the murders and attack on a US embassy. That is what Congress needs to be looking into. A trial should have already been held. What is the hold up?”

    Possibly the mother-loving civil war thing in Libya.