The White House hinted Monday that it won’t cooperate with the House GOP’s new investigative committee tasked with looking into the Benghazi attacks — a panel that Republicans said will be led by tenacious investigator Rep. Trey Gowdy.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Republicans’ motivation for the inquiry is political, and he dodged questions on whether the administration will fully cooperate, saying the investigation is fundamentally flawed.
“There is a problem when you have so many conspiracy theories that get knocked down by the facts and the adherents to those theories only become more convinced that the facts aren’t what they so clearly are,” he said
Republicans announced Monday that Mr. Gowdy, a second-term Republican congressman and former federal prosecutor from South Carolina, will head up the select investigative committee.
Mr. Boehner reversed himself last week and embraced the creation of the investigative committee, saying that new information called into question how cooperative the administration had been in turning over documents related to how the 2012 attack and public relations aftermath were handled.
Mr. Carney struggled last week to explain why a key email wasn’t turned over until months into the investigation.
House Democrats are still pondering how to approach the special committee. One option would be to refuse to appoint Democratic members to the investigation.
It also remains to be seen what sort of investigative powers the House will give to the committee.
Mr. Boehner, in his statement Monday, signaled he wants the investigators to have broad powers, saying he wants them to have “the strongest authority possible to root out all the facts.”
Mr. Gowdy, 49, has gained a reputation as a relentless investigator despite his short time on Capitol Hill. He was the lawmaker who pushed to declare that former IRS employee Lois G. Lerner had waived her right against self-incrimination during her appearance before the House Oversight Committee last year.
Mr. Gowdy’s investigation will supersede those by several regular committees that had already been investigating. Foremost among those is the House Oversight Committee, led by Rep. Darrell Issa.
Mr. Issa, California Republican, praised Mr. Gowdy’s selection as chairman of the special investigative panel.
“Trey has been an integral contributor to the Oversight Committee investigation and takes the knowledge we have gained, through subpoenas and individual testimony, to his new role leading the new Select Committee,” Mr. Issa said.
For his part, Mr. Issa has issued a subpoena demanding Secretary of State John F. Kerry appear before his committee on May 21 to explain why what he deems a key email was only turned over to the panel last week.
But the State Department said Monday that Mr. Kerry will be in out of the country that day, and will not change his plans to answer the subpoena.
“We’re going to be in Mexico,” said spokeswoman Marie Harf.
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