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GOP draws distance from previous Benghazi conclusions

GOP draws distance from previous Benghazi conclusions
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Republicans are distancing themselves from a prior controversial analysis about the 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, amid new scrutiny on the House’s special committee investigating the incident.

One year after the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee released a report debunking multiple allegations about the violence in Libya, the new head of that committee is saying he won’t stand by its findings.

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Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesFormer GOP operative installed as NSA top lawyer resigns Sunday shows preview: Russia, US exchange sanctions; tensions over policing rise; vaccination campaign continues Overnight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he MORE (R-Calif.) “never endorsed the report’s conclusions because the committee was not able to interview numerous important witnesses to the Benghazi attack,” his spokesman said in an email to The Hill on Wednesday.

Nunes “strongly supported convening” the Selecte Committee on Benghazi “and he continues to support its work,” spokesman Jack Langer added.

Rep. Mike PompeoMike PompeoPompeo visits Hill to support GOP push for Iran sanctions Pompeo joins GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill to introduce Iran sanctions act House passes legislation to elevate cybersecurity at the State Department MORE (R-Kan.), who sits on both the Intelligence panel and the Select Committee on Benghazi, insisted that last year’s report was “factual” but nonetheless restricted by both its own mandate and the Obama administration’s responsiveness.

“Its scope was very limited,” Pompeo said in a phone interview this week. “It was limited to intelligence components of the United States government and it was based upon the documentary evidence that was available at the time that that committee has.”

“We are far removed from that today.”

As evidence, he noted that the Select Committee on Benghazi had received 1,300 emails from Ambassador Christopher Stevens — one of the four Americans killed in the 2012 Benghazi attack — just on Tuesday afternoon.

“You ask about a report that’s now how old?” Pompeo said. “It was well before [Tuesday] afternoon at 1 o’clock. So there you go.

“We have a great deal more information.”

The argument is likely to be a preview of Thursday, when former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPelosi on power in DC: 'You have to seize it' Cuba readies for life without Castro Chelsea Clinton: Pics of Trump getting vaccinated would help him 'claim credit' MORE steps before the Benghazi Committee for what is expected to be a marathon session.

Clinton and her fellow Democrats have repeatedly pointed to last year’s Intelligence Committee report and multiple other congressional probes into Benghazi as a way to discredit the current investigation.

“We know what happened in Libya and we know what needs to be done to prevent future tragedies,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) — the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which issued a report on Benghazi in January of 2014 — said in a statement on Wednesday.

Many of the previous congressional reports on Benghazi concluded that there was no imminent warning about an attack on Sept. 11, 2012, but nonetheless faulted the Obama administration for failing to take additional safeguards ahead of time, given the tumultuous state of the country following the revolution that ousted Moammar Gadhafi.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) co-authored a Homeland Security Committee report on the attack in December of 2012. She disputed Democrats’ allegations that the matter has been fully covered.  

The House’s Special Benghazi Committee “had access to many more witnesses and much more time than we had,” she told The Hill. “I think ultimately we could’ve done a very extensive investigation but we were up against the clock of an expiring Congress.”

“We provided a useful preliminary investigative report, but there was certainly room for more,” she said. “More could be done.”

Collins was also on the Senate Intelligence Committee when it put out its 2014 report.

The House Intelligence Committee’s November 2014 report was considered the most favorable for the administration of the multiple congressional analyses.

The report, released after a two-year investigation, concluded that there was “no intelligence failure prior to the attacks” and debunked the notion that there was a “stand down” order issued during the attack. Additionally, the report shut down concerns that anyone from the CIA was intimidated or prevented from speaking to Congress, or that the CIA had secretly sent weapons to Syria from Benghazi ahead of the attack. 

The report was written by then-Chairman Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersFive questions about Biden withdrawal from Afghanistan Congress brings back corrupt, costly, and inequitably earmarks Biden defense budget criticized by Republicans, progressives alike MORE (R-Mich.), who has since left Congress, and top Democrat Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.). An aide to Rogers did not respond to an inquiry about the report.

Republicans chided its findings at the time.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who is currently running for president, at the time called it “full of crap” and accused the Intelligence committee of “doing a lousy job policing their own.” 

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) also accused the committee of trying “to protect its own.”

This week, Pompeo insisted that critics were wrong to read the report as a wholesale analysis of the administration’s actions surrounding the attack — as the House committee was created to be. Instead, it was a narrow take on the job of the intelligence workers, he said.

“My take is the way the media interpreted that report was completely wrong,” he said. “I’ve heard it used by [top committee Democrat, Maryland Rep.] Cummings and by some of the Clinton apologists as an exoneration of the administration.”

“Let me assure you it was not that.”