The head of the House Select Committee on Benghazi has a message for his fellow Republicans: “Shut up.”
In an interview on Sunday on CBS’ “Face The Nation,” Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina) deflected criticism that the congressional investigation into the 2012 attack on the US mission in Benghazi is simply an attempt to plunge the political standing of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Gowdy told host John Dickerson that critics can’t accurately comment on the situation because they don’t have nearly as much information about the Benghazi attack as the committee itself.
“I get that there’s a presidential campaign going on. I have told my own Republican colleagues and friends – shut up talking about things you don’t know anything about. And unless you’re on the committee, you have no idea what we’ve done, why we’ve done it, and what new facts that we’ve found,” Gowdy said.
“The seven members of my committee are much more focused on the four dead Americans than we are on anyone’s presidential aspirations,” Gowdy added, referencing the four Americans killed in the attack, which occurred during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.
Clinton is set to testify before the committee in a high-profile appearance on Thursday.
Republicans, especially Gowdy, have found themselves on the defensive since House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) said in an interview on Fox News that the Benghazi committee had successfully helped to plunder Clinton’s poll numbers.
“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee, [and] what are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened,” McCarthy said.
Last week, Rep. Richard Hanna (R-New York), who is not on the committee, also criticized it and suggested it was politically motivated, drawing a strong rebuke from Gowdy.
But those statements, along with recent accusations from a former committee investigator, plays into a narrative that Democrats have pushed for years. Clinton has said repeatedly that Republicans refuse to quit investigating the attack because it calls Clinton’s leadership into question, despite the fact that other official investigations have found no wrongdoing on the former secretary of state’s part.
“Look at the situation they chose to exploit, to go after me for political reasons: the death of four Americans in Benghazi,” Clinton said earlier this month during a televised town hall. “I knew the ambassador. I identified him. I asked him to go there. I asked the president to nominate him.”
On Sunday, Gowdy brushed off Dickerson’s question about the usefulness of the select committee itself, noting that the previous investigations overlooked US Ambassador Chris Stevens’ emails. Gowdy said he wanted to know why Clinton wasn’t more focused on beefing up security at the embassy.
“What I want to know is while violence was going up in Libya, why was our security profile going down?” Gowdy said. “It wasn’t even staying the same – it was going down.”