By Russell Berman - 05/07/14 11:06 AM EDT
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday defended his decision to appoint a House select committee on the Benghazi terrorist attack, saying the panel would be “a serious investigation” and not “a circus.”
The proposed committee will have seven Republicans and five Democrats, but it is not yet clear if House Democrats will participate. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had called on Boehner to accept an equal number of Democrats and Republicans, and she and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) sent a letter to the Speaker on Tuesday night urging him to change his mind.
Boehner acknowledged that until last week he had opposed creating a special committee, believing that the four House committees investigating the attack had done “a very good job.” But that changed when the White House released an email under a Freedom of Information Act request to a conservative group that Republicans say had been withheld from their document requests.
Republicans say senior Obama administration officials misled the public in the days after the attack that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012.
The email from Benjamin Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, made clear, Boehner said, that “the White House played a more significant role in the development of how they were going to describe this, certainly more than anything that had been disclosed thus far.”
Boehner said the committee, which has an open-ended duration and no defined budget, would not be wasteful or duplicative.
“I think it’s about bringing all these activities that have been going together into one place, and it will be paid for through existing House accounts,” he said.