by Jonathan Strong 7 May 2014
Speaker John Boehner is negotiating with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi over details of the select committee on Benghazi, with Pelosi pressing for Democrats to have a role in deciding what subpoenas the panel issues as well as full access to documents and witnesses.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Pelosi and Boehner were set to meet to hash out further details, although a Boehner aide said only staff-level talks are occurring and no meeting between the principals had been scheduled.
“We cannot have the kind of abuse we have in government reform where we learn about subpoenas in the newspaper. We need to have significant input with regard to the issuing of subpoenas, access to witnesses, access to interviews, everything's gotta be on a bipartisan basis,” Cummings said, describing the “criteria” Pelosi is seeking in order for Democrats to participate in the panel.
Top Republicans said Boehner would name six additional Republicans to the panel Friday after the legislation creating it had passed the House. A senior lawmaker said Boehner is looking at Republicans with backgrounds as prosecutors or other credentials qualifying them for the investigation and is eager to avoid anyone who might be considered too partisan by Democrats or the public.
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) also provided additional detail about the formation of the panel, which came shortly after new “smoking gun” emails about the White House's response to the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack were released under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
Wesmoreland said a working group he led had counseled Boehner that due to its lack of subpoena power and jurisdictional disputes between the committees independently investigating the issue, he would need to provide additional authority to the group. The release of the new documents, Westmoreland said, “was the straw that broke the camel's back.”