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Friday, October 21, 2016

The confusion of the House Select Committee on Benghazi is amusing to observe, even as its chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), scrambles frantically to salvage credibility amid the expensive fiasco he has created. Trying to clean up the appalling mess left behind by his decision to pursue his committee’s conspiracy theories involving Sidney Blumenthal – subpoenaed and questioned for nine hours last week — Gowdy has abruptly thrown the New York Times under the bus.

As the overture to Blumenthal’s subpoena, the Times published a highly speculative story on May 29, based on leaks and innuendo from the committee. According to that story, the former journalist and Clinton confidant wrote a series of “intelligence” memos about Libya that he sent to Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State – supposedly in hopes of advancing the interests of “business associates” who wanted to undertake humanitarian enterprises in that country.

In the days since Blumenthal’s June 16 appearance to answer the committee’s questions behind closed doors, it has become obvious that most of its inquiries had nothing to do with Libya and everything to do with politics – notably involving Blumenthal’s perfectly legitimate connections to Clinton and their mutual friend David Brock at Media Matters and American Bridge. (Both Brock and Blumenthal are longtime friends of mine.)

Even as they have continued to leak selected snippets of Blumenthal’s testimony to deflect embarrassment, the Republicans have come under increasing pressure from Democrats to release the full transcript. Despite the Washington press corps’ overriding concern with “transparency” in everything Clinton, few reporters have demanded the same from Gowdy so far — presumably because they want those leaks to continue.

On June 22, Gowdy dispatched a seething letter to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking Democrat on the committee, in response to Democratic demands that he release the transcript. In four single-spaced frothing pages, he tried to defend the Republicans’ misuse of taxpayer funds for an inquisition that has in no way advanced the public’s understanding of the Benghazi tragedy (which has already been probed exhaustively by 10 congressional panels and a State Department Accountability Review Board, without producing findings of any wrongdoing by Clinton, President Barack Obama, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, or any other top administration official).

About halfway through his letter to Cummings, Gowdy writes:

“It is also important that I correct certain misapprehensions that have, inadvertently I am sure, made their way into media accounts quoting Democrat sources. The committee never expected Witness Blumenthal to be able to answer questions about the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, since 1) Witness Blumenthal was not in Benghazi at the time of the attacks, 2) has never been to Libya, 3) did not collect any of the data passed on to Secretary of State Clinton, 4) did not evaluate the reliability or accuracy of any of the data he passed on to Secretary of State Clinton and 5) was dealing with information gatherers who may have had a financial stake in Libya.”

Note that phrase “never expected.” Never? With those two words, Gowdy scuttles the premise of the original Times article — which attributed the Libya memos directly to Blumenthal. Did Gowdy and his staff know that Blumenthal had simply transmitted intelligence memos written by his friend Tyler Drumheller, the former CIA European chief? Did the committee sources tell the Times reporters that Blumenthal had written them? Or is Gowdy now merely pretending that he knew about Drumheller’s authorship all along? According to my sources, the committee Republicans were stunned to learn on June 16 that Blumenthal had never set foot in Libya.

So without perusing the Q&A in Blumenthal’s deposition – a document that Gowdy obviously feels will embarrass him — it is hard to tell what kind of game he has played with the Times and other credulous journalists, but it doesn’t look good for him or them. An investigation that Gowdy once claimed would uncover crucial information about Benghazi has devolved into a sideshow featuring a Clinton friend who (as Gowdy now acknowledges) never knew anything about the attacks firsthand, but whose political advice to the Democratic frontrunner is of great interest to the committee’s partisan majority.

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Copyright 2015 The National Memo
  • Kathy Noonan

    Captain Incompetent.

    • Theodora30

      Actually it is the Times that is incompetent. Gowdy doesn’t care about the truth, just keeping the investigation going just in case he hits on something (just like Ken Starr did with Monica) he can use to trash Clinton. Or something he can twist to make her look bad, knowing the Times is likely to play along as usual.

      • The_Magic_M

        > just keeping the investigation going just in case he hits on something […] he can use to trash Clinton

        Precisely. Even Gowdy seems to have abandoned the hope they could use #Benghaaaaaazi for any political purpose in 2016, so they’re delving into unrelated stuff that they can then feed to their propaganda outlets (like PACs sending out “did you know?” emails to their voters).

  • Insinnergy

    Enjoy the show people.
    Sooner or later he’s going down and he may take the GOP credibility (further down) with him… since we have all those nice expressions of deep and undying support from various important GOP members.

  • Grannysmovin

    Fiscally responsible party my a$$.

  • FT66

    This guy Gowdy must be held accountable and say why he has misused tax payer’s money for the investigation which doesn’t make any sense at all. They were eager to investigate what happened thousands miles away (in Libya), but not what happened within, here I mean 9/11.

    • dpaano

      It was our wonderful ex-Idiot President Bush who refused to allow a committee to form to investigate 9/11. And, we all know why. He KNEW this was a possibility, had been warned by Clinton’s administration when he came into the White House, and he chose to ignore it. 9/11 was his fault just as much as it was the perpetrators (who, by the way, were NOT from Sadaam, but from Bush’s buddies in Saudi Arabia). It’s amazing at how quickly the GOP forms committees to investigate things that have happened during President Obama’s administration, but they conveniently forget all the things that SHOULD HAVE BEEN investigated during the last president’s administration. Bush and his cronies should be tried in a court of law for murder for all the deaths of our young servicemen and women due to his illegal war, as well as the thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens who have suffered also. Vincent Bugliosi wrote a book about the prosecution of Bush, Cheney, Rove, and Condi….too bad he’s no longer around to take the case!

  • terry b

    The mental unstability of the GOP has infected all of their party. They can’t find any real facts when making an attack on their opponents so they decide to just make some up. It doesn’t matter what the subject is. Let the stupidity begin!

  • Patricia McCullough

    so, in 2024, after Hillary has served 8 years as madam President, will the G.O.P. finish their 1000th investigation?

    • plc97477

      I think if the gotp continues in the current direction we will see the end of the gotp long before that.

      • Patricia McCullough

        I am a 69 year old left leaning Democrat…I would love to see the end of the G.O.P. in my lifetime. That would make it all worthwhile.

    • dpaano

      Probably, and they won’t find anything different! They’re just spending our taxpayer money on a lot of political BS! They’ll do anything to make Hillary and the democratic party look bad, but they are only making themselves look like the idiots that they are!

  • 788eddie

    I actually feel a little sorry for Trey Gowdy. He’s been given a real Sh_t job and must make it look good for his “betters.” After all for the prior investigations, can he really believe in what he’s trying to do?

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    Not to worry folks…Gowdy is doing a rerun of the McCarthy Era portraying his very best role as Roy Cohn…remember Cohn? The man who bashed gays and was himself gay? Remember how he outed J. Edgar Hoover and his gay partner? Turned Hollywood’s most respected actors into accused Communists without any possible proof?

    This is the Gowdy who must be removed from office for abuse of power. Watch him at those committee meetings. He is THE epitome of the most obnoxious man I have ever seen. He went after the Secy of the Treasury asking a question and then interrupting Lew before he was even able to answer.

    This bum should be thrown out on his butt.

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    Who interrogates journalists? Doesn’t this asshat Gowdy have it backward? Isn’t He the one who is supposed to ANSWER questions? Gowdy joins several other vicious, obnoxious, classless, rude attack dogs of the GOP. Hensarling (R-TX) pulled the same thing. Ask a question, interrupt and then answer the question they asked. What kind of jerks do this?

    Cotton, Issa, Garret, Gowdy, Bolton, Hensarling and Inhofe all think they are judges and juries. These are fact finding committees. Not GOP witch hunts.

    Wake up people…if you don’t want another round of innocent people being wrongly accused by these GOP attack dogs, it’s time to slap them with abuse of power charges.

  • dpaano

    You know, it gets really tiring to see all these so-called “committees” hash and REHASH the very same things over and over again using my hard-earned taxpayer dollars and finding nothing new. This goes for the Benghazi BS, the IRS BS, the e-mail BS, and trying to repeal Obamacare (when they have NOTHING to replace it). It gets ridiculous, and I’m sure there are other taxpayers out there that would also like to see this stopped. Maybe if the GOP had to pay for these ridiculous committees out of their OWN pockets, they might put a stop to this.