Fulfilling a move that was widely expected, House Speaker John Boehner appointed South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy to lead the select congressional committee tasked with investigating the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.
“Trey Gowdy is as dogged, focused, and serious-minded as they come,” Boehner said in a statement. “His background as a federal prosecutor and his zeal for the truth make him the ideal person to lead this panel.
“I know he shares my commitment to get to the bottom of this tragedy and will not tolerate any stonewalling from the Obama administration. I plan to ensure he and his committee have the strongest authority possible to root out all the facts. This is a big job, but Rep. Gowdy has the confidence of this conference, and I know his professionalism and grit will earn him the respect of the American people.”
Gowdy’s selection was immediately hailed from some of the staunchest critics of the Obama administration on its handling of the 2012 attack. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said Gowdy is the “most capable person in the entire Congress” to lead the committee. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said he couldn’t think of anyone better to lead the committee.
Before entering Congress, Gowdy worked for six years as a federal prosecutor, where he gained fame for the successful prosecution of J. Mark Allen, one of “America’s Most Wanted” suspects. He moved on to become the district attorney for the state’s Seventh Circuit.
Gowdy is a member of the House Oversight Committee that has investigated the attack for much of the past two years. Like many conservative members of the House, the second-term congressman believes the Obama administration covered up, to some extent, its role in the 2012 attack. Newly released emails last week showed how White House officials coordinated on talking points after the attacks.
Last week, Gowdy said on Fox News that he had proof of a “systematic, intentional” effort by the White House to withhold certain documents from Congress about the attack.
He has been critical of everyone from the White House to the press on the subject of the attack. Last year, his remarks at a press conference were widely broadcast within the conservative media. In December, he blasted an extensive New York Times report seen as favourable to the administration’s early claims as “politically motivated.” He even speculated it was published to bolster former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions in 2016.
“I’ve read this New York Times article, Dana, six times,” Gowdy told guest host Dana Perino. “I want you to read it six times and tell me if you can tell who the secretary of state was when Benghazi happened.”
It’s considered likely that Gowdy will subpoena Clinton to testify before the committee, which would make for an enormous press spectacle.
White House press secretary Jay Carney declined to say on Monday whether the Obama administration would cooperate with the investigation. But he blasted House Republicans’ efforts, pointing to a “scathingly political statement” from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney the day after the attack. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf called the committee a “waste of time and taxpayer dollars” on Monday, but said the department would cooperate.
The House will vote later this week to form the special committee.
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