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Benghazi chairman: Dems get to review, offer edits to report

Benghazi chairman: Dems get to review, offer edits to report
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Democrats on the House Select Committee on Benghazi will be able to review and offer edits to the committee’s highly anticipated report this month despite their repeated opposition to the panel’s work, according to Chairman Trey GowdyTrey GowdyTrey Gowdy sets goal of avoiding ideological echo chamber with Fox News show Fox News signs Trey Gowdy, Dan Bongino for new shows Pompeo rebukes Biden's new foreign policy MORE (R-S.C.).

Gowdy on Sunday issued a blistering, 1,800-word attack on Democrats’ efforts to undermine the committee's investigation through “abject obstruction” and “serial” leaks to the media.

But the five Democratic members will nonetheless have access to the report before it is made final, Gowdy wrote in a letter to the panel's top Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.). 

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“Despite your efforts to undermine and obstruct our fact-centered work, rest assured all members of the committee will have the opportunity to review the report and offer changes in a manner consistent with the rules of the House,” Gowdy said. “Then, after the committee completes its work, the American people will be able to read the report, the supporting evidence and transcripts, and judge for themselves the value and fairness of our investigation.”

Democrats, however, appeared skeptical of the pledge, pointing to apparent wiggle room in House rules that could let Republicans make a draft version of the report public before circulating it internally.

“Based on their latest letter, it appears that the Republicans have decided not to vet their draft report for accuracy with the rest of the Select Committee members before they release it to the public shortly before the political conventions this summer,” a Democratic committee spokesman said in a statement provided to The Hill.

“Democrats are deeply disappointed that Republicans have rejected virtually every opportunity to make this investigation bipartisan, fact-based, and credible.” 

Spokespeople for Gowdy declined to clarify his commitment.

In any case, the South Carolina Republican made clear that he is disdainful of the Democrats’ behavior on the committee over the last two years.

Democrats “have spent far more time writing letters, selectively leaking material, and spreading mischaracterizations than you have actually participating in this investigation,” he wrote. 

Last week, Cummings and the four other committee Democrats formally requested that Gowdy offer them a chance to review the committee’s final report about the 2012 terror attacks on a U.S. compound in the Libyan city of Benghazi. Democrats want the report, which is due out later this month to include both parties' findings or at least give Democrats a way to offer “corrections, additional context or other input” before its public release.

Observers had previously assumed that Democrats would write their own opposing report, rebutting most of the Republican leadership’s claims.

To Gowdy, the request was “mildly amusing” but “not altogether surprising,” given what he claims is progress in investigating the attacks. Four Americans died when armed militants attacked a U.S. diplomatic building and nearby CIA annex amid the fallout from Libya's civil war.

“Any reasonable observer would conclude you want to ‘work’ on the report solely so you can leak and mischaracterize the new facts you now acknowledge have been found as a result of this investigation,” he wrote to Cummings over the weekend. In March, Gowdy prevented Democrats from accessing testimony transcripts unless under GOP supervision, following a debate about alleged leaking.

“You have become a serial leaker of information," he said. 

The committee’s GOP leaders feel pressure to unveil damning new evidence related to the 2012 attacks despite repeated criticism from Democrats. Critics of the Benghazi panel accuse Gowdy of leading a thinly veiled witch-hunt against former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump asks Biden to give Putin his 'warmest regards' Huma Abedin announces book deal Mystery surrounds Justice's pledge on journalist records MORE, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.  

“After more than two years and nearly $7 million in taxpayer funds, this kind of report won’t be taken seriously and will be widely dismissed as the obvious partisan political attack that it is,” the Democratic spokesman said on Monday.

Over the weekend, The New York Times editorial board warned that lawmakers “seem to have come up with nothing” and was about to hit a “dead end.”

Gowdy and other Republicans insist that’s not the case.

“This investigation has uncovered new information that will change how the public views what happened before, during, and after the attacks in Benghazi,” he wrote in the letter to Cummings. “Despite your best efforts to prevent it from happening, actually talking to eyewitnesses and actually accessing relevant documents has produced new information. ... It took longer than I wanted, but we are finally going to be able to answer questions left unanswered by previous investigations.”

“The very essence of your two-year obstruction has been impeached.”

Updated at 1:10 p.m.