By Russell Berman - 05/05/14 01:38 PM EDT
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has named Rep. Trey Gowdy (S.C.), a second-term Republican and former federal prosecutor, to head a new House select committee investigating the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012.
Gowdy was the preferred choice of Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to take on what will be a high-profile assignment for the GOP over the next several months. The deep-voiced South Carolinian is known for his prosecutorial style in questioning witnesses at hearings as well as his impassioned floor speeches.
“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.
“I plan to ensure he and his committee have the strongest authority possible to root out all the facts,” he added. “This is a big job, but Rep. Gowdy has the confidence of this conference, and I know his professionalism and grit will earn him the respect of the American people.”
The Speaker announced on Friday he would appoint a select committee on Benghazi after the release of a White House email that Republicans say is a “smoking gun” showing that the Obama administration misled the public in the days after the terrorist attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.
House Democrats denounced the Speaker’s decision and have not said whether they will participate in the select committee, which they say is a move by Boehner to gin up the GOP’s conservative base ahead of the November midterm elections.
Gowdy will likely replace Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) as the face of the House GOP’s Benghazi investigation. He serves on Issa’s Oversight and Government Reform Committee as well as the House judiciary and education panels.
Issa praised the decision, saying in a statement that Boehner "could not have chosen a member more committed to getting the full truth about the before, during, and after of the Benghazi terrorist attacks than Congressman Trey Gowdy."
House Republicans have not released further details on the structure of the select committee, although a House vote forming the panel could come by the end of the week.