By Jonathan Rubin
Hillary Clinton endured a grueling 11-hour hearing with The United States House Select Committee on Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi on Oct. 22. In the hearing, she was prodded over and over again about her actions leading up to, and her subsequent response to the tragic attack which cost four Americans their lives. The committee was created by Speaker of the House John Boehner, who ridiculously gave the committee no budget or deadline. Boehner also called for the creation of the similarly ludicrous Planned Parenthood judiciary committee.
Committee Chair Trey Gowdy and his Republican colleagues tried many different angles to try to box Mrs. Clinton in a corner. No matter what the committee pressed her on: her email or her changing characterization of the attack from a demonstration to a terrorist plot, the presidential candidate remained composed and articulate. Her powerful performance saved her from having the three-year-old scandal dredged up again and allowed her to escape with her record largely unsullied.
Ranking member and top Democrat of the committee, Representative Elijah Cummings, used all of his time throughout the hearing to blast the partisan politics of the committee. “Everyone on this panel knows these accusations are baseless,” Cummings cried, “from our own investigation and all those before it. Yet, Republican members of this Select Committee remain silent.”
The real question is: Why did this hearing need to happen in the first place? There have been seven prior congressional investigations and 22 hearings on the Benghazi Attack. To put those metrics in perspective, there were 23 hearings after 9/11, where 2,996 people were killed in the attack. Moreover, Mrs. Clinton has taken full responsibility for her actions and previous investigations have not been able to find negligence on her part or on the part of the White House.
So why have House Republicans chosen to spend 4.7 million taxpayer dollars, bringing the Benghazi investigations bill to an estimated 20 million dollars, on an incident that has been thoroughly investigated by their colleagues? The answer is disheartening. The committee was created in order to damage the former Secretary of State’s presidential campaign. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy went on Fox News Channel and explicitly lauded the committee for bringing down Hillary Clinton’s polling numbers. Other Republicans have also let slip the real purpose for this investigation.
The congress members who engineered this witch-hunt have done a massive disservice to their constituents. They use their position to interfere with a Democratic election instead of working on issues that really matter, like crumbling infrastructure, rampant unemployment, institutional racism or climate change. This committee is another example of how corruption has become the norm in Washington. Donald Trump may be an idiot, but when establishment Republicans abuse their power, the Republicans prove his charges of their incompetence to be true.
If the Republicans really want to seek out truth and create transparency, maybe they should create a new committee to investigate immoral and frivolous use of taxpayer dollars by the Congress, though I do not think Mr. Gowdy could hold up nearly as well as Mrs. Clinton did under scrutiny.
This hearing and the Planned Parenthood hearing show that the new Republican-led Congress has no problem abusing their power to create many hours of attack ads to play on CSPAN. We do not need to reinvestigate incidents because the previous results are not politically expedient. We do not need to have a hearing because of a falsified and highly edited video clip. We need our Congress to create real and meaningful change by passing a jobs bill, immigration reform and healthcare reform. That is what governing would look like, but whatever this is, certainly is not it.