Saying she’d arrived at the conclusion that Republicans can’t be trusted to get to the truth about Benghazi, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appointed five Democrats to the select committee investigating the 2012 terrorist attack.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) will be joined by Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) on the panel with six Republicans led by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.).
“Unfortunately, the Republican obsession with Benghazi has not been about the victims or their families or our country. We had hoped that the House Republican leaders would not go down the path forming a select committee,” Pelosi said at a Hill news conference today with her chosen team. “…Over the past two weeks, we have engaged in good-faith discussions with Speaker Boehner on the shape and standards of the select committee. We had hoped for a level of fairness and transparency and balance, especially considering the subject matter. We were not able to reach any agreement.”
“What is the purpose of this investigation? What is the timetable? What are the milestones? What are they hoping to achieve?” she said, noting that she could have “argued either way” the case of whether Democrats should boycott the committee.
“Why give any validity to this effort? But I do think it is important for the American people to have the pursuit of these questions done in as fair and open and balanced way as possible. That simply would not be possible leaving it to the Republicans,” Pelosi continued.
Cummings said he doesn’t believe a select committee is called for, but has “seen firsthand how abusive the Republicans have been during this investigation.”
“The family members of Ambassador Stevens have pleaded publicly for this not to be politicized. Let me read to you their words, and I quote: ‘What Chris never would have accepted was the idea that his death would be used for political purposes,’ end of quote,” Cummings continued. “So I feel that I owe it to the families of Ambassador Stevens and the other brave Americans who lost their precious lives to bring some minimal level of balance to this process and to check false claims wherever they may arise.”
“In short, ladies and gentlemen, I believe we need someone in that room to simply defend the truth. Defend the truth. And that is why I’ve agreed to serve.”
Schiff, who previously called the select committee “a colossal waste of time,” said he’ll ultimately have “important responsibilities” on the panel.
“The decision was ultimately made that we need somebody in that room to stand up for the truth, and that will be our responsibility, to make sure that this does not become a select committee on talking points, that we focus, instead, on the things that really matter, and that is, what can we do to prevent other people from being killed in the future at diplomatic posts around the world?” he said. “And where are we in hunting down those who are responsible?”
Gowdy said the GOP members “welcome” their Democratic colleagues onto the panel.
“I respect Mr. Cummings and his work in Congress,” Gowdy said in a statement. “I look forward to working with him and the members of the committee toward an investigation and a process worthy of the American people and the four brave Americans who lost their lives in service to our country.”