Benghazi chairman: We'll pick up the pace

Benghazi chairman: We'll pick up the pace
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Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyOur sad reality: Donald Trump is no Eisenhower GOP takes aim at Comey, Brennan House Dem calls on lawmakers to 'insulate' election process following Mueller report MORE is vowing to “pick up the pace” of the special investigation into the Benghazi, Libya, terrorist attacks while sparring with Democrats who say the process has become partisan.

Gowdy (R-S.C.), the chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, said his panel is exercising the authority it has under the law to examine “all policies, decisions and activities" related to the 2012 attacks.

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“The operative word in the resolution is the word ‘all’ and the word ‘all’ is about as comprehensive a word as you could use,” Gowdy said in his opening statement at a hearing Tuesday.

“So it stands to reason if you are asked to conduct a full and complete investigation into all policies, decisions and activities, you need access to all witnesses, all relevant documents, and all information,” he added.

Gowdy accused the Obama administration of slow-rolling requests for documents and interviews with witnesses, and said he has “zero interest” in dragging out the investigation into the Libya attack, which killed four Americans.

“We’re going to pick up the pace,” he said.

The House created the select committee to investigate the Benghazi attacks last May, over the objections of Democrats who have accused the GOP of launching a “witch hunt” aimed at attacking Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton'Teflon Don' avoids the scorn of the 'family values' GOP — again Don't expect Trump-sized ratings for Democratic debates Ocasio-Cortez on Biden: 'I think that he's not a pragmatic choice' MORE, who was secretary of the State at the time of the deadly assault.

Tensions on the panel spilled into the open late Monday after Democrats accused Republicans of conducting witness interviews in secret and withholding information. They also complained Gowdy has not approved rules for the committee that would allow them greater participation.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the panel’s ranking Democrat, reiterated many of those complaints in his opening statement, and said the 12-member committee is moving at a “glacial pace.”

“Although I continue to believe that the best way forward for our committee is to reach agreement on a truly bipartisan approach, I can no longer say I am optimistic that this will happen,” he said. “Nevertheless, our door is always open, and we are always willing to sit down and try.”

Gowdy pushed back, saying the criticism was “interesting” coming from Democrats, who fought the creation of the panel and have repeatedly threatened to boycott it.

Democrats kept up the drumbeat of criticism. Rep. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithBipartisan House duo unveils amendment to block Iran strike without Congress's approval GOP moves to block provision banning use of Defense funds for border wall Texas Republican: Migrant conditions in his state the 'worst' he's seen MORE (D-Wash.) noted that the GOP-controlled panel made no document requests between May and December, and said Gowdy’s comments about not prolonging the work “boggles the mind.”

Smith said Gowdy is “never going to get every single question answered and he’s never going to get every single document.”

“I have never encountered an event in human history” that left no question unanswered, he said, adding his concerns over what he sees as an increasing partisan bent to the committee.

Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) said she was "skeptical" about the scope of the select committee before she joined it but put her concerns aside in hopes the investigation would be non-partisan.

"Boy, it really looks like I was wrong with that one," she said.

Sánchez said she is increasingly convinced that GOP lawmakers are looking for a "mythical creature, this unicorn," a search for some "nefarious conspiracy that does not in fact exist."

The congresswoman apologized to the witnesses at Tuesday’s hearing for airing the panel's dirty laundry but said the tensions "have been boiling over for some time."