A bitter partisan battle is developing among members of the House committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attack chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy and Democrats bent on limiting access to witnesses.
And a potential clash between Gowdy and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is waiting in the wings.
The Democratic members, headed by Maryland’s Elijah Cummings, seek veto power over the committee’s subpoenas and object to Gowdy’s examination of witnesses by only the GOP members.
The Democrats would rather debate the matter than hear what the witnesses have to say.
Gowdy, a former South Carolina prosecutor, knows that giving Democrats veto power over issuing subpoenas would mean no witnesses would be called at all.
“I am unwilling to let the minority party veto subpoenas when it is clear they have prejudged the outcome of the investigation,” Gowdy said, according to the Washington Examiner.
“The minority has repeatedly indicated it is unwilling to issue any subpoenas. If subpoenas are necessary for the committee to talk to relevant witnesses or access relevant documents, they will be issued.”
Gowdy is having none of it.
“But I will not allow the minority’s political games and unreasonable demands to interfere with the investigation,” he said. “The time for negotiations has passed, and the committee is moving on under the rules and scope approved by Congress.”
The most compelling witness would be Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state when the U.S. foreign mission in Benghazi was overrun by Islamic militants on Sept. 11, 2012.
Although she has testified on two previous occasions — once in each chamber of Congress — she indicated a willingness to appear before the special select committee, according to Cummings, who claimed he’d broached the subject to her last year.
“She immediately said she would do that and she wanted to come in December and then she said, ‘Well, if you can’t have me in December I’ll come in January.’ She said … ‘I’ll do it, period,’” Cummings said, according to CNN.
Gowdy has long expressed a desire to hear from Clinton, but not until the panel has had a chance to subpoena and review all relevant State Department documentation, including emails to and from Clinton and her own notes.
In June of last year, Clinton indicated to NBC News that she had taken numerous notes during the attack, but declined to say whether she’d be open to handing them over to the committee.
Gowdy’s position is that it’d be fruitless to have her testify before the panel has reviewed the documentation.
“We intend to access all of the information necessary to do the job the House instructed us to do,” Gowdy said in his opening statement at a committee meeting on Tuesday. “And we need to access that information now. Talking to only some of the witnesses will not work. Accessing only some of the documents will not work.
“If you want all of the truth, you need all of the information.”
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