House Speaker John A. Boehner said Friday that the select committee charged with investigating the 2012 terrorist attack on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, is about getting the truth and that it’s up to the committee members to decide who they want to call as witnesses.
Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, was asked about a reported excerpt from a forthcoming book by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in which Mrs. Clinton accuses people of exploiting the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack for political gain.
“This is about one issue and one issue only, and that is getting the truth for the American people and the truth about what happened in Benghazi for the four families who lost their loved ones there,” Mr. Boehner said.
Mrs. Clinton has said that Benghazi is her biggest regret during her time in the Obama administration, but has also dismissed the need for a special panel to investigate the attack, which claimed the lives of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens.
“Those who exploit this tragedy over and over as a political tool minimize the sacrifice of those who served our country,” Mrs. Clinton writes in the chapter titled “Benghazi: Under Attack,” according to Politico.
The committee, chaired by South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, held an organizational meeting last week on the structure of the majority side of the committee. A spokeswoman for Mr. Gowdy said the focus at this point is to get it up and running.
Mr. Gowdy has also spoken with the committee’s ranking member, Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland. Mr. Cummings also serves as the ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) committee.
Mr. Gowdy himself waved off Mrs. Clinton’s reported words in an interview with CNN Friday, saying that “there is a time and a place for everything and her book tour is neither for me.”
He said the committee is going to talk to all witnesses who have relevant information.
“It’s a brand new committee that is going from infancy to adulthood in a short amount of time. All of my energy now is trying to get staff done,” he said.
Democrats were weighing whether or not to even participate in the panel but ultimately yielded and appointed their full allotment of members. They had unsuccessfully appealed to Mr. Boehner to divide the panel equally between the two parties, rather than its current composition of seven Republicans and five Democrats.
Mr. Boehner himself had been reluctant to appoint a select committee, but has said that the White House’s repeated stonewalling of Congress for information on the attack forced his hand.
“You have to remember, we’ve been asking for documents now for 18 months,” he said Friday. “Why does the administration refuse to turn over the documents? Why do they refuse to tell the American people the truth about what happened?”
The White House and many Democrats have said the formation of the panel is being driven by politics and have pointed to the handful of investigations and reports that have already been issued on the attack.