House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is set to announce the formation of a select committee to investigate the 2012 Benghazi attacks.
Boehner had been cool to the idea of forming a committee to probe the attacks that left four Americans dead, but sources close to the speaker say a new email released this week showing that the Obama administration sought to downplay initial reports of terrorism was the “straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Boehner is said to be tired of the “continued obstruction” by the White House, and now wants a committee to fully investigate.
Sources said Boehner wants former prosecutor Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) to lead the committee, and that preference means Gowdy is likely to preside over the effort.
Republicans on Thursday blasted the new email as a smoking gun that showed the White House ignored intelligence reports showing Al Qaeda was involved in the attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. A retired Air Force General testified to a House committee on Thursday that he knew very early on that the attack was not the result of a spontaneous protest against an anti-Muslim video.
Nonetheless, the email given to conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch as part of a Freedom of Information Act request showed that senior White House staffers were playing up the idea of a spontaneous protest days later.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the email had nothing to do with Benghazi at all, which is why it had not been released earlier. That led Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to accuse the White House of telling a “bald-face lie.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus agreed that the White House’s actions amount to “lying.”
“When confronted with this evidence, they continue to offer denials, non-answers, and lies,” he said in a statement. “At this point, they’re lying about their lies. Clearly, Democrats will go to any length to cover up what really happened.
“I applaud Speaker Boehner and House Republican leaders for their decision to vote to establish a new select committee on Benghazi,” he added. “The American people want and deserve to know why the Obama White House and Democrats decided their political press strategy was more important than providing honest answers to the American people.”
Boehner did not go as far as saying the White House was “lying,” but he did say the decision to withhold that email is a “flagrant violation of trust” that raises another question, “What else about Benghazi is the Obama administration still hiding from the American people?”
“Americans learned this week that the Obama Administration is so intent on obstructing the truth about Benghazi that it is even willing to defy subpoenas issued by the standing committees of the People’s House,” Boehner said. “These revelations compel the House to take every possible action to ensure the American people have the truth about the terrorist attack on our consulate that killed four of our countrymen.
“In light of these new developments, the House will vote to establish a new select committee to investigate the attack, provide the necessary accountability, and ensure justice is finally served.”
Support for the committee among Republicans makes it all but certain to pass in the GOP-led House.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) released his own statement Friday that said House committees have uncovered information about the attack despite stonewalling from the White House.
“Unfortunately, the Obama Administration’s continued obstruction has made clear that it is time for a House Select Committee to force the Administration to end its stonewalling and come clean to congressional investigators, an inquiring media, and the American public,” he said.
“In the days after four Americans were killed by terrorists, President Obama’s advisors orchestrated a campaign to deceive their fellow Americans as to what occurred, and we deserve to know why.”
Also Friday morning, House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said he subpoenaed Secretary of State John Kerry to testify on May 21 about the attacks, in light of the email released this week.
Issa said Kerry’s response so far has “shown a disturbing disregard for its legal obligations to Congress.”