Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the leading Democrat on the Benghazi committee has been working with his fellow Democrats to try and de-legitimize the committee by claiming it is a political operation, thus they are politicizing the committee in their attempt to protect Hillary Clinton. One of their favorite methods of politicizing the investigation is to leak sections of testimony, taken out of context to the liberal media. Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) has had enough. He is no longer allowing Democratic committee members and their staffs to use the transcripts without a “babysitter” from the majority.
He issued a press release that said in part:
“As recently as this afternoon, I offered Mr. Cummings total, unfettered access to, and control of, transcripts if he simply agreed he would not selectively leak them. He would not give me that assurance. Democrats have threatened to leak more transcripts and therefore I have no choice but to protect past witnesses, future witnesses, confidential material and the integrity of the investigation by allowing the Democrats equitable access but not control. Once they stated their intention to misuse transcripts, I could not in good faith allow them to do so. Mr. Cummings likes to frequently lecture people how ‘we’re better than this,’ but his actions and the actions of his staff with regards to this investigation unfortunately prove otherwise. That is why I have taken these reasonable steps in accordance with House rules to provide equitable access to witness transcripts while protecting the integrity of this investigation.”
As he described those new steps:
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The Minority will have full and complete access to interview transcripts during Committee business hours, and my staff will do their best to accommodate requests for access outside of Committee business hours. Committee transcripts will not leave the Majority’s control due to the Minority’s stated intention to selectively release them at will.
Gowdy sent a letter to Cummings explaining the new procedures, providing examples and the consequences of their leaks:
Such selective releases chill the willingness of witnesses to cooperate with the Committee, distort witnesses’ recollection, and allow witnesses to strategize answers to known lines of questioning. For example, the unverified, unofficial transcript already released without authorization by the Minority is now being quoted in federal litigation and other matters, even though it is not a final, corrected, and official transcript. These actions have thus endangered not only the thoroughness and fairness of the Committee’s own work, but also federal litigation and other proceedings, as well as the rights of witnesses to correct potential errors in the transcript. Further breaches would no doubt be similarly damaging.
As an experienced attorney and Congressional investigator, you are, no doubt, well aware of the harm to our investigation that would be caused by the selective release of transcripts and the improper purposes those selective releases could be used for. So I am confused by the Minority’s unwillingness to commit to not selectively release any more witness transcripts prior to the completion of our investigation and release of our report.
This is not the first time the Chairman confronted Rep. Cummings about the leaks. In October of 2015 he sent Cummings a scathing 13-page letter urging him to “rise above the political pressure” being put on him by Democrats and keep the “promises” made to the families of the American heroes who died in Libya.
Gowdy scolded Cummings, for being two-faced, putting on a “public posture” that is “quite the opposite” from the one he has taken during private discussions.
“Not once in any of these conversations have you ever questioned the motivations of the Committee’s work or questioned our mission to uncover the facts surrounding the Benghazi terrorist attacks. Your Democrat colleagues and you have contributed nothing substantively to the Committee’s investigation over the past seventeen months—you have not requested a single new witness interview nor have you made one single document request to any Executive Branch Agency.”
He then accused Cummings and the minority of “selectively” leaking information about the Benghazi Committee’s probe “to promote your own false narrative.”
And he ended by slamming Cummings and telling him the committee’s work will continue:
“While it is unfortunate that for over seven months the State Department withheld nearly 1,900 pages of Secretary Clinton’s emails responsive to this Committee’s request, our work must go on. Simply because you have chosen to play politics with this Committee and the State Department has chosen to play politics by shielding its former Secretary at the expense of the truth does not mean that this Committee was founded on politics, is based on politics, or will veer off course due to the political actions and allegations of others.”
The Democrats on the select committee have never demonstrated a desire to find the truth, in fact they’ve have attempted to obstruct the committee at every turn. Thankfully John Boehner selected Trey Gowdy to lead this committee. As expected Gowdy is a powerful leader who demands the committee’s task to be completed with honesty and integrity and creates systems to ensure the Democrats comply.