White House may not cooperate with Benghazi select panel
By Justin Sink - 05/05/14 02:40 PM EDT
The White House suggested Monday it may not cooperate with a new House select committee investigating the terror attack in Benghazi.
Press secretary Jay Carney said that the White House has "always cooperated with legitimate oversight," but called the new probe a “highly partisan effort to politicize” the deadly attack.
"If you look at even what some Republicans have said, it certainly casts doubt on the legitimacy of an effort that is so partisan in nature," Carney said.
"I don't think there are many people, including some Republicans… who believe that this is necessary after seven congressional committees and multiple investigations," he added.
Carney refused to answer questions directly about whether the White House would cooperate, but he noted that there had been 13 congressional hearings, 50 member-and staff briefings, and over 25,000 pages of documents produced over the September 11, 2012 terror attack, in which four Americans were killed.
"One thing this Congress is not short on is investigations into what happened before, during, and after Benghazi," he said.
"And all of these investigations… have found that the facts as we describe them, in terms of how we approach this, remain exactly as we described them then, the facts of yesterday or the facts today," Carney continued. "And they will be the facts no matter how often or for how long Republicans engage in highly partisan efforts to politicize what was a tragedy."
Earlier Monday, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced that Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) will head the new select committee.
Boehner decided to call for the committee last week, after the revelation of an email from White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, who recommended then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice should “underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”
The White House has maintained that Rhodes was merely prepping Rice to discuss protests across the Middle East, and not the Benghazi incident specifically. Republicans, though, said the document is evidence the White House was pushing the narrative that the violence in Benghazi grew from anger over an anti-Islam YouTube to protect the president's bid for reelection.
“Trey Gowdy is as dogged, focused, and serious-minded as they come,” Boehner said in a statement announcing the appointment on Monday. “His background as a federal prosecutor and his zeal for the truth make him the ideal person to lead this panel.
“I know he shares my commitment to get to the bottom of this tragedy and will not tolerate any stonewalling from the Obama administration,” Boehner continued.
But Carney repeatedly dismissed the effort as conspiratorial and politically motivated.
"At some point you just have to assume Republicans will continue this because it feeds a political objective of some point," Carney said.
"The facts begin not to matter to those who fervently want to believe something else," he added.
Carney also chided Republicans for not focusing on issues "Americans really care about," like the economy.
"The effort to politicize this has continued unabated," Carney said.
House Democrats have not yet said whether they would participate in the select committee. Carney said the White House would leave it up to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on whether to participate.