House Democrats are protesting last week’s 11-hour grilling of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before the Select Committee on Benghazi, but have decided they’re not going to quit the committee.
Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) and Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) said in a joint statement Friday that “there can be no remaining doubt that the Benghazi Select Committee is a taxpayer-funded fishing expedition to derail Secretary Clinton’s presidential campaign.”
They met with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday and decided to call on House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to “immediately shut down this abusive, wasteful, and obviously partisan effort.”
“If the Speaker rejects our request, Democrats will continue to participate at this point in order to make sure the facts are known and the conspiracy theories are debunked,” the lawmakers said.
They called on Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) to “immediately release all of the interview transcripts, consistent with protecting sensitive information, so the American people can see the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
Gowdy told Fox that day that he ordered his staff to “send all the transcripts to be cleared.”
“And when I say be cleared, I’m not going to have any identifying information that’s going to jeopardize anyone. Send them all to be cleared. If we’re going to release one, we are going to release them all, because I want folks to see that this is a serious investigation into all aspects of Benghazi. And the best way to get that point is to look at all the transcripts, not one of them,” Gowdy said.
Gowdy noted that out of 54 interviews the only ones that Democrats “are clamoring to release are two folks who were the closest friends of the former secretary of state.”
“I just don’t think you ought to look at 1/54th of anything,” he said. “…Why not the D.S. agents? Why not the contractors on the ground?”
The chairman told NBC yesterday that in the closed-session interviews “there is never any of what you saw Thursday.”
“It is one hour on the Republican side, one hour on the Democrat side, which is why you’re going to see the next two dozen interviews done privately because it is — I mean, look at the other investigations that are being done right now,” Gowdy said. “The Lois Lerner investigation that was just announced, was that public or private? How about Comey’s investigation? Is that public or private? The private ones always produce better results.”
Asked if Clinton was a cooperative witness, he replied, “She answered the questions. And I would note, I don’t think I ever caught her off. She was given ample opportunity, so she answered the questions, yes, if that’s your definition of cooperative, yes.”
“I’ve always also injected an element of wholeness and completeness and also truthfulness in the definition of cooperative and I’ll give you one example,” Gowdy added. “I gave her an opportunity to tell me where the 90 percent to 95 percent figure comes from. She’s wrong about that. Did she cooperate in answering the question? Yes. Was it an accurate answer? No.”
Cummings told NBC that the Democrats “decided to stay on the committee because somebody has to be in the room to defend the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth — and if you think about it, if you listen to the questions being asked by the Republicans and the way they tried to attack her, you really did need to have Democrats in the room to give the other side of the story not so much to defend her but to try to make sure the complete picture was painted.”