House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), the House Republicans’ most prominent face of its investigations into the Obama administration, may not be a member of the new Benghazi select committee, according to a House leadership aide.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), the former prosecutor heading up the new panel, is seen by some Issa rivals as an “Issa guy,” since he is on the oversight panel Issa chairs, but his absence on the special panel would be a noticeable omission.
Boehner’s announcement he was launching a select committee came just hours after Issa issued a subpoena to Secretary of State John Kerry, creating uncertainty about whether Kerry would be required to appear before Issa’s committee or the new panel. In a statement that day, Issa said Kerry was still under subpoena to appear at his committee May 21. Later, he also issued a statement praising Gowdy’s selection as the select committee’s chairman.
The day before the select committee was announced, tensions between the five committee chairmen who had been independently investigating the issue broke out into the open. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon issued a statement blasting the credibility of a witness that had just testified in the oversight committee, prompting a pushback from Issa allies.
Leadership sources insist the formation of the select committee had nothing to do with the breakdown in cooperation between the chairmen.
New “smoking gun” documents about the scandal were first revealed by the non-profit group Judicial Watch, which had sued to obtain them under the Freedom of Information Act. The documents had not been provided to the House committee’s investigating the issue, prompting outrage from Republicans.
“In many ways its an indictment of the media and Congress that it was Judicial Watch that obtained this record and not all the king’s horses and all the king’s men,” Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, said in an interview with Breitbart News.
“The administration’s withholding of documents – emails showing greater White House involvement in misleading the American people – is a flagrant violation of trust and undermines the basic principles of oversight upon which our system of government is built,” Boehner said in his statement announcing the committee.
The emails from Judicial Watch kicked the investigation back into the headlines after two years of Republican efforts to uncover the truth about the administration’s activities behind the attack.
“We’re pleased he got out of the way, so to speak, to allow a select committee to proceed,” Fitton said, in response to Boehner’s announcement, pointing out that 180 Republicans and a coalition of grassroots groups had been calling for a committee for months.
But there are worries that the Boehner-appointed committee may not be permitted to do its work.
Fitton said the committee will succeed “if it’s allowed to do it’s job. If it’s manipulated for political purposes, by either party no.”