Way back in August 2014, House Benghazi Committee chairman Trey Gowdy was guardedly optimistic that his committee’s investigation into the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack would be wrapped up in expeditious fashion. Gowdy anticipated that his committee’s inquiry – the eighth such inquiry into the attacks – would be completed by the end of 2015, “assuming cooperation from agencies, witnesses, and the administration,” he told the New York Times. Democrats, already suspicious of the motives behind the formation of the committee, were grumbling that Gowdy and the House Republicans were laying the groundwork to drag the investigation out into the 2016 election season and use it to do political damage to Hillary Clinton.
Those concerns were well-founded. Just a few months after predicting a 2015 wrap-up to his investigation, Gowdy announced that – wouldn’t you know it – administration stonewalling was forcing him to push off the committee’s findings until 2016. “Factors beyond the committee’s control, including witness availability, compliance with documents requests, the granting of security clearances and accreditations—all of which are controlled by the Executive branch—could continue to impact the timing of the inquiry’s conclusion,” Gowdy’s office said in a statement. But at the same time that Gowdy and his colleagues were complaining about the administration blocking their access, they were also boasting of the huge numbers of documents they were obtaining and new witnesses they were interviewing – indeed, Gowdy’s complaints about stonewalling were contradicted by his own committee’s published reports.
Gowdy was also busily breaking promises he’d made concerning transparency and oversight. “We are going to keep asking questions,” Gowdy declared in December 2014. “And to that end, we will have hearings in January, in February, and March and until.” Those monthly hearings never materialized; the committee has held only four public hearings in the 700+ days of its existence, and only one – the disastrously incompetent haranguing of Clinton herself – since the end of January 2015. At the same time that Gowdy was failing his self-imposed duty to conduct public oversight, his committee was enthusiastically feeding damaging, often false information about Clinton to the press and making a mockery of Gowdy’s self-congratulatory proclamation that “serious investigations do not leak information.”
Now we get news that the all-too-predictable result of this years-long campaign of cutesy deception is the planned release of the Benghazi Committee’s final report sometime in the next couple of months. As Dana Milbank writes in the Washington Post, Gowdy’s team is already drafting the report and expects to have the classification review completed between July and September. How absolutely remarkable that the Obama administration managed to obstruct and delay Gowdy and his team just enough to ensure his committee’s report would drop right in the heart of the presidential campaign. An astounding coincidence, that.
In preparation for the report’s release, Gowdy is taking steps to make sure that the Democrats on the committee will be hampered in their ability to respond. He’s heavily restricted access to transcripts of witness interviews, claiming that it’s a necessary measure to prevent Democrats from leaking them ahead of the report’s release. It’s a classic bit of Gowdy deception – Democrats have been threatening to release interview transcripts as a corrective to the selective leaks that have been consistently flowing from the Republican side of the committee. Gowdy is claiming to stand for integrity when all he’s doing is protecting his colleagues’ ability to anonymously feed misleading information to the press.
When the Benghazi Committee was formed in May 2014, it was met with a wave of suspicion regarding its motives, and throughout the course of its investigation it has done just about everything to justify those initial concerns. All that remains is for Gowdy to churn out the final report. “It's not going to come out in the middle of 2016,” Gowdy said of that report a year ago this month. “I hope it doesn't come out in 2016, period.” The chairman’s protestations notwithstanding, it’s clear the Benghazi Committee's findings are coming out right on schedule.