House Dems to Participate in Benghazi Probe
House Democrats will participate in the special, Republican-led select committee investigating the deadly 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced Wednesday that she will appoint the full complement of five Democratic members on the 12-member panel. She tapped five Democrats with experience in previous congressional investigations.
The Democrats who will join seven Republicans are Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, Adam Smith of Washington state, Adam Schiff of California, Linda Sanchez of California and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois.
Democrats had considered boycotting the investigations, the eighth inquiry since the Sept. 11, 2012 attack that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has named the seven Republicans who will serve on the committee, including Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, the chairman.
Democrats have been divided over whether to boycott the investigation, the eighth probe into the Sept. 11, 2012 attack that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. Some Democrats have called the new inquiry a political sham designed to energize core GOP voters for the midterm elections, embarrass the Obama administration and rough up former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, a potential 2016 presidential candidate.
Among Democratic leaders, Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina reiterated his reservations on Tuesday.
Other Democrats have maintained that they must participate in the select committee to ensure they have a role in questioning witnesses.
Pelosi met with members of the House Democratic leadership Wednesday morning. Her staff and aides to Boehner are continuing to meet to discuss the parameters of the investigation.
At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney wouldn’t comment on Pelosi’s potential decision, but said there was reason to suspect the House GOP’s investigation “might not be divorced from politics.”
“We defer to the leader,” Carney said, referring to Pelosi.
“Our view has always been – and it has been not just our view, but our practice – that it is appropriate to have legitimate congressional oversight,” Carney added, without elaborating on whether the Gowdy-led investigation constitutes legitimate oversight.
The Benghazi attack has become a conservative rallying cry, with Republicans accusing the Obama administration of intentionally misleading the public about the nature of the attack and stonewalling congressional investigators.
The special investigation means high-profile hearings in the months leading up to the elections, with Republicans likely to target current and former administration officials. Almost certain to be called to testify is Clinton.
The panel is authorized to work through the end of the year, past November’s midterm elections, when the GOP hopes to win control of the Senate and tighten its majority grip on the House.
In the 20 months since the attack, multiple independent, bipartisan and GOP-led probes have faulted the State Department for inadequate security in Benghazi, leading to four demotions. No attacker has yet been arrested.
Associated Press writer Josh Lederman contributed to this report.