Dems rip Benghazi panel findings in prebuttal

Dems rip Benghazi panel findings in prebuttal
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The House Select Committee on Benghazi was formed under a cloud of politics, and it appears to be ending the same way.

More than two years after the House voted to create the committee along largely party lines, the GOP majority is set to release its long-awaited report on Tuesday facing a similarly polarized environment.

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Committee Republicans refused to share a draft of their report with Democrats ahead of the Tuesday release, despite a pledge earlier this month that they would. Instead, GOP leaders leaked snippets of the report to multiple media organizations early Tuesday morning.

Democrats, in turn, published their own rebuttal to the Republican report a day ahead of time, trying to get out in front of the news cycle and claiming that the special investigation will not change the public's understanding of the 2012 violence that left four Americans dead. 

"There is a reason Republicans leaked pieces of their report in the middle of the night and continue to hide it from Democrats even now — they don't want us to fact check it against the evidence we obtained,” a Democratic spokesman said in a statement on Tuesday morning. 

The Benghazi report, the spokesman claimed, “seems like a conspiracy theory on steroids — bringing back long-debunked allegations with no credible evidence whatsoever.”

In recent months, GOP leaders limited Democrats’ access to documents and transcripts, warning that they would selectively leak them to the media.

"To this day, the Republicans are still withholding transcripts from Democrats and the American people that contradict their conspiracy theories,” the Democratic spokesman said. “Republicans promised a process and report that was fair and bipartisan, but this is exactly the opposite.”

Republicans have also accused Democrats of declining to show up to multiple interviews and work sessions, claiming that the lawmakers never gave the investigation a serious chance.  

The heated split on the 12-member panel mirrors a broader divide between the parties over the committee’s investigation, with Democrats long insisting that Republicans were using the special committee as a political hit job on former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump to hold campaign rally in Michigan Saagar Enjeti ponders Hillary Clinton's 2020 plans Political ad spending set to explode in 2020 MORE. Democrats are sure to dismiss Tuesday’s report as unserious and desperate.

But Republicans have repeatedly raised questions about the 2012 terrorism at U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya. The Obama administration had failed to prepare for the possibility of violence, critics allege, and then misled the public afterwards.

The episode has proven particularly troubling for Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. 

Republicans on the committee had suggested that she would not feature prominently in their report, but leaks ahead of time indicate that her response will be questioned.

Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyFive landmark moments of testimony to Congress Conway spars with Wallace on whether White House will cooperate with impeachment inquiry after formal vote Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' MORE (R-S.C.), the committee's chairman, defended the House panel's investigation into the attacks after the Democrats released a rebuttal on Monday ahead of the report's release, saying Gowdy treated the investigation "like an overzealous prosecutor desperately trying to land a front-page conviction."

That report was issued by the five Democrats on the committee, including ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).

"If anyone would recognize an overzealous prosecutor, it would be someone from Baltimore," Gowdy fired back during an appearance Tuesday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

"Secondarily, he hasn't read the report," Gowdy continued. "You read the report, and if you think it's an overzealous prosecutor ... we mention Secretary Clinton's name less times than the Democrats do, despite the fact our report is twice as long."

"Put aside what the Democrats say the report is going to be like — it's actually out. Read it for yourself and read all of the new information that we found and what the focus is on — it is not on one person, it is on four people," Gowdy said, alluding to the four killed Americans.

"The one thing we conclude in our report is we didn't seem to have the urgency that was needed,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a member of the committee, said during an interview with CNN’s “New Day.”

“We didn't move heaven and earth to get help to the people who were fighting for their lives and that's a problem."

Jesse Byrnes contributed

Updated at 9:11 a.m.