Boehner forced to defend Benghazi panel

Boehner forced to defend Benghazi panel
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Outgoing Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerCoronavirus poses risks for Trump in 2020 Lobbying world Pelosi-Trump relationship takes turn for the terrible MORE on Thursday was forced to defend the Select Committee on Benghazi in the wake of comments from his No. 2 acknowledging the political value of the panel.  

In a statement, the Ohio Republican denied that the panel — which he helped to create last year — was formed to tear down Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocratic insiders stay on the sidelines in 2020 race Hillicon Valley: Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates | Barr vows to make surveillance reforms after watchdog report | DHS cyber chief focused on 2020 The Hill's Campaign Report: High stakes at last Democratic debate before Super Tuesday MORE.  

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“This investigation has never been about former Secretary of State Clinton and never will be,” Boehner claimed.

“The American people deserve the truth about what happened in Benghazi. That’s always been our focus, and that’s going to remain our focus.”

Boehner’s insistence follows Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) remarks on Tuesday evening that the special investigatory committee had played a role in Clinton’s declining poll numbers.

"Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping,” McCarthy — the likely next Speaker of the House — said on Fox News

“Why? Because she's untrustable," 

The comments were instantly blasted by Democrats, who have long accused GOP leaders of creating the Benghazi committee with an eye on the 2016 presidential election.

Democrats in both chambers have called on Republican leaders to disband the committee, and Clinton herself has said that McCarthy’s comments “dishonor” Americans working for the government.

The fact that Boehner was forced into the fray on Thursday underscored the damaging nature of McCarthy’s comments for Republicans. The remark cast doubt on whether he is fit to serve as the next House leader, after a relatively short tenure in Congress.

The comments are sure to hang over Clinton’s appearance in the Benghazi committee later on Oct. 22.

The former secretary of State’s open testimony had already promised to dominate the headlines, but McCarthy’s comments likely give Clinton and her allies a leg up in dismissing heated questions as merely political theater.  

The Benghazi committee was created last year and was tasked with exploring the events surrounding a 2012 attack at a U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, which left four Americans dead.