House Democrats announced Wednesday that they will join the Select Committee on Benghazi, even though they were unable to win any procedural concessions from Republicans aimed at giving Democrats more of a say in the committee’s activities.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she spent two weeks talking to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) about things like requiring a Democrat to agree to subpoena people, and how transparency its operations will be.
But Pelosi said she was not able to convince Boehner to change the committee process.
“We had hoped for a level of fairness and transparency and balance, especially considering the subject matter,” she said, adding that Democrats fear a process that is similar to the one House Oversight & Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) ran.
“We were not able to reach any agreement,” she said. “Regrettably, the Republican approach does not prevent the unacceptable and repeated abuses committed by Chairman Issa in any meaningful way.”
Pelosi was known to be considering not having Democrats participating at all, or having just one Democrat participate to oversee the committee. But she said in the end, it seemed better for Democrats to participate in the hopes of creating a more fair process.
“I do think it is important for the American people to have the pursuit of these questions done in as fair and open and balanced way as possible,” she said. “That simply would not be possible leaving it to the Republicans.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) will be the top Democrat on the committee, even though he argued that the process is not needed. Cummings agreed with Pelosi’s assessment that Democrats are needed to balance the committee’s efforts, and charged that a committee stocked only with Republicans is not capable of finding the truth.
“I believe we need someone in that room to simply defend the truth,” he said of his decision to participate.
The Select Committee is comprised of seven Republicans and five Democrats, and is chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.). Aside from Cummings, Democrats appointed Reps. Adam Smith (Wash.), Adam Schiff (Calif.), Linda Sanchez (Calif.), and Tammy Duckworth (Ill.).
Republican committee members were expected to meet this week by themselves, but so far there have not been any formal meetings of the committee announced. Gowdy’s panel has unlimited time to investigate the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, as well as the Obama administration’s handling of that attack.
GOP leaders finally decided to create the committee after new emails revealed that the White House ignored intelligence saying the consulate was the victim of a terrorist attack, and instead claimed it was a reaction to an anti-Muslim video.