Congressional Democrats are up in arms over Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s recent admission that the House Benghazi Committee has been nothing but a political witch-hunt which used millions in taxpayer dollars to smear a presidential candidate. They’ve called for an investigation into the committee and have released a fact sheet specifically detailing the utter failure of Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and the House Benghazi committee to investigate the deaths of four Americans. It’s a damning indictment of the partisan misuse of Congressional time and money that is going to be remembered as one of the most disgraceful acts in American political history.
How the Benghazi Committee Targeted Hillary Clinton
1. Gowdy Cancelled All Planned Hearings Other Than Hillary Clinton’s After NYT Email Story
Before the New York Times broke its story on March 2 about Hillary’s Clinton’s emails, Gowdy had sent to Committee Members an investigative plan that set out monthly hearings with all the different agencies involved in preparing for and responding to the attacks in Benghazi, including the State Department, the Defense Department, and the Intelligence Community.
After the New York Times’ email story broke on March 2, however, Gowdy completely abandoned this plan and began focusing almost exclusively on Hillary Clinton.
Since then, Gowdy has not held any of the hearings on his schedule, and his upcoming hearing with Hillary Clinton is the only hearing now scheduled.
For example, Gowdy abandoned the hearing he had planned for April with former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary Leon Panetta.
The Committee has never held even one public hearing with anyone from the Department of Defense. The Committee has held only one hearing with an intelligence official, but it was with the CIA’s head of Legislative Affairs regarding the status of document production.
2. Gowdy Dropped Key Interviews with Top Defense and Intelligence Leaders
Gowdy also abandoned plans he had made in February to start conducting interviews of the following top defense and intelligence leaders in April: former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, former CIA Director David Petraeus, General Martin Dempsey, and former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matt Olsen.
He never invited any of these defense or intelligence leaders for interviews.
Gowdy then announced that he planned to start conducting the following interviews in June: former Defense Secretary Panetta, General Martin Dempsey, and General Carter Ham.
Those interviews were also abandoned.
3. Gowdy Scheduled New Interviews and Depositions of Hillary Clinton’s Associates
By the end of this month, Republicans will have interviewed or deposed 8 current or former Clinton campaign staffers, compared to only a total of four Defense Department officials.
Gowdy sent armed Marshals to serve a deposition subpoena on longtime Clinton associate Sidney Blumenthal despite the fact that he was completely cooperative and would have voluntarily appeared without a subpoena, but was never asked.
Gowdy later admitted that he “never expected Witness Blumenthal to be able to answer questions about the attacks in Benghazi, Libya.”
The Select Committee asked Blumenthal more than 160 questions about his relationship and communications with Clinton, but fewer than 20 questions about the Benghazi attacks; more than 50 questions about the Clinton Foundation, but only 4 about security in Benghazi; and more than 45 questions about David Brock, Media Matters and affiliated entities, but no questions at all about Ambassador Stevens or other personnel in Benghazi.
4. Gowdy Stepped Up Aggressive Press Campaign Against Hillary Clinton
Since March, Gowdy’s press releases have focused almost entirely on Secretary Clinton.
Over the past nine months, he has issued 22 press releases related to Secretary Clinton (including one on Sidney Blumenthal’s emails with Clinton), but only 5 press releases on any other topic during that period.
Of the 5 non-Clinton press releases, three (1, 2, 3) are about the State Department’s compliance with document production, one marks the anniversary of 9/11, and one is Gowdy’s interim progress report.
The only documents Gowdy has publicly released over the past 17 months were Clinton’s emails with Sidney Blumenthal, and Gowdy did this unilaterally with no debate or vote by the Select Committee.
At the same time, he has blocked the public release of Blumenthal’s deposition transcript, which would reveal all the questions Republicans asked about Hillary Clinton and other issues that have nothing to do with Benghazi.
Almost immediately after the interview with Cheryl Mills, Republicans began leaking inaccurate information to damage Clinton with unsubstantiated or previously debunked allegations, while refusing to release the complete transcript.
Gowdy refused to investigate or condemn a leak that made more unsubstantiated allegations against Clinton despite the fact that Politico was forced to correct a front-page story that relied on apparently doctored information about an email produced to the Select Committee.
5. Gowdy’s Taxpayer-Funded Political Campaign Against Clinton
The Committee was given an unlimited, taxpayer-funded budget, and it has now spent more than $4.6 million in one of the longest and least productive investigations in congressional history—focused on Clinton.
The Committee is being used by Republican fundraisers to attack Clinton.
The Committee’s attacks were described by the conservative PAC America Rising as a taxpayer-funded political activity: “This has all occurred without a single cent of paid advertising taking place.”
Gowdy’s name, image, and position has been used to solicit political donations by Stop Hillary PAC, which describes itself as “created for one reason only—to ensure Hillary Clinton never becomes President of the United States.
Gowdy appeared at a GOP political event in June where local Rep. Chuck Fleischmann explained: “Whether you are Hillary Clinton or any other lefty out there, you better beware because Trey Gowdy is out there and he is going to get you.”
Gowdy reportedly does not plan to release his findings until “just months before the 2016 presidential election.”
Gowdy’s approach has been criticized even by conservative commentators: “Whatever the findings are in this investigation—it will forever be plagued by allegations of unfairness, and politics if this investigation is dragged into 2016. That would not be fair to the American people.”
It’s clear from this report that the House Committee on Benghazi already had its conclusion written – that Hillary Clinton was somehow guilty – and the proceedings were nothing but a formality, a cursory lip service to due process in one of the most disgraceful smear campaign ever perpetrated by American elected officials. It is time for this committee to be shut down, and for a new one to be instituted in its place- to investigate House committee members for their gross ethics violations and misuse of public funds.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.