Top Democrat on Benghazi panel lays waste to the politicized investigation in epic opening statement

"Why tell Republicans to shut up when they are telling the truth, but not when they are attacking Sec. Clinton?"

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published October 22, 2015 4:45PM (EDT)

  (Fox News)
(Fox News)

After Trey Gowdy called for proper decorum to be observed -- then promptly broke it himself when he went directly after "Democrats" on the committee for performing a "lousy" investigation during his opening statement -- ranking minority member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) ripped into his Republican colleagues with an opening statement that painstakingly laid out clear evidence that this latest investigation into the attacks in Benghazi is a political charade meant to undercut Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

"The Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee conducted an extensive, bipartisan, two-year investigation and issued a detailed report. The Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Homeland Security Committee also conducted bipartisan investigations," Cummings explained. "The problem is that Speaker Boehner did not like the answers he got from those investigations."

"So he set up this new Select Committee—with no rules, no deadline, and an unlimited budget—and he set it loose on Secretary Clinton because she is running for president."

Cummings then set his target on the so-called "gaffe" of the year, noting House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's boast that the most impactful success House Republicans have managed is to undercut Clinton's political ambitions through the House Select Committee. Cummings then followed-up with mention of another House Republican who admitted that committee was “designed” to go after Clinton, before laying into Gowdy's handling of the blowback from his own party members' honesty:

Last weekend, the Chairman told his Republican colleagues to “shut up” and stop talking about the Select Committee.

What I want to know is this—why tell Republicans to shut up when they are telling the truth, but not when they are attacking Secretary Clinton with reckless accusations that are demonstrably false?

Carly Fiorina has said that Secretary Clinton “has blood on her hands,” Mike Huckabee accused her of “ignoring the warning calls from dying Americans in Benghazi,” Senator Rand Paul said “Benghazi was a 3:00 a.m. phone call that she never picked up,” and Senator Lindsay Graham tweeted, “Where the hell were you on the night of the Benghazi attack?”

Everyone on this panel knows these accusations are baseless—from our own investigation and all those before it.  Yet Republican Members of this Select Committee remain silent.

"Here is the bottom-line," Cummings concluded, "the Select Committee has spent 17 months and $4.7 million in taxpayer funds":

We have held four hearings and conducted 54 interviews and depositions.  Yes, we have received some new emails—from Secretary Clinton, Ambassador Stevens, and others.  And yes, we have conducted some new interviews.

But these documents and interviews do not show any nefarious activity.  In fact, it’s just the opposite.  The new information we have obtained confirms and corroborates the core facts we already knew from the eight previous investigations.  They provide more detail, but they do not change the basic conclusions.

It is time for Republicans to end this taxpayer-funded fishing expedition.  We need to come together and shift from politics to policy.  We need to finally make good on our promises to the families, and we need to start focusing on what we here in Congress can do to improve the safety and security of our diplomatic corps in the future.

Watch below:


By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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