Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the new chairman of a special committee investigating Benghazi, brushed off calls by a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee for his caucus to boycott participation in the investigation and hearings.
On Fox News Sunday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) called the new committee “a colossal waste of time.”
“I don’t think it makes sense for us to give this select committee any more credibility than it deserves,” he said. “And frankly, I don’t think it deserves very much.”
“They wouldn’t like it if I cured malaria tonight. I mean, because I’m a Republican. So, of course, they are going to be critical. That’s not the jury,” Gowdy said last night on Fox. “Although I would tell Adam and some of my other colleagues to at least let us have a hearing before you judge it. I mean, at least let the committee be constituted and the rules be adopted before you declare it to be a political exercise. That’s not too much to ask, is it?”
Gowdy stressed that Schiff is “really smart.”
“He was hired by the Bush administration to work at the U.S. attorney’s office in California. I was hired by the Clinton administration to work in the U.S. attorney’s office in South Carolina. That’s what I love about the justice system. She wears a blindfold for a reason…. At least let the process have a chance to work before you declare it null and void.”
The South Carolina Republican noted that the investigation thus far of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack has been extremely “fragmented,” with several panels having conducted their own investigations and not communicating with each other.
“And by the way, I’m not interested in redacted documents or an overclassification. I want the documents. So I want all of the evidence. And then people can draw different conclusions from those facts in evidence. But 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 and then your jury can draw whatever inferences and conclusions they want to,” Gowdy said.
He said House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) assured him that the special committee will have “whatever power we need to get to the bottom of it.”
“You know, the State Department said just this week that they are in the process of complying with subpoenas. Well, it’s been 20 months. How long does it take to comply with the document request? There is no judge in America that would give you 20 months to comply with a subpoena. So, part of the answer to your question depends upon how forthcoming and how willing this administration is to provide access to the witnesses and the documents,” Gowdy said.
“There are certain things in our culture that have to transcend politics. And I don’t mean to sound naive, but the murder of four fellow Americans and an attack on a facility that is emblematic of our country should transcend politics. And I know that our fellow citizens can handle the truth, but only if they get access to it. They can draw their own conclusions about politics, who is at fault, who is not at fault? But they can’t do it if they don’t have access to all the documents and all the witnesses.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has been calling for a Benghazi committee from the Senate side, praised Boehner’s pick yesterday.
“Trey Gowdy is the most capable person in the entire Congress to lead the Select Committee,” Graham said. “He’s a former prosecutor who is well-respected by his colleagues, tenacious in his approach to his duties, and fair-minded about his responsibilities. Trey is the right person at the right time.”
Added South Carolina’s other senator: “The families of those killed in the Benghazi attacks deserve to know the truth about what happened that night, as well as the administration’s response in the hours and days afterwards,” said Tim Scott (R). “Trey Gowdy is without a doubt the right man for the job, and I have no doubt he will lead a thorough and fair investigation.”