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Trey Gowdy: Benghazi Panel Won't Be Kangaroo Court

Image: Trey Gowdy: Benghazi Panel Won't Be Kangaroo Court

By Greg Richter   |   Sunday, 11 May 2014 10:38 AM

Declaring that "facts are neither Republican nor Democrat," Rep. Trey Gowdy says the Benghazi select committee he will chair won't be a "kangaroo court" as some Democrats have charged.

"I don't run my committees the way that the Democrats are fearful of," the South Carolina Republican said on "Fox News Sunday."

Gowdy said he wants a process where people may be able to draw different conclusions from the facts, but that all will agree that the process was fair and exhaustive and provided new information.

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told The New York Times in a story published Saturday that she will appoint members to the committee from her party only if Democrats have the ability to sign off on subpoenas and be allowed to participate in interviews and that Republicans must not selectively release testimony.

Gowdy said he has no problem with allowing full participation from all members, but he balked at the suggestion that Democrats would have veto power over subpoenas.

Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra of California told Fox's Chris Wallace that isn't what Democrats want. His party simply wants access to everything seen by Republicans, he said.

"We want a fair, balanced and open process," Becerra said, echoing Fox News' slogan "Fair and Balanced." "We'll call it the Fox standard, OK?" Becerra said.

Gowdy stepped back from a controversial comment he made last week on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." When asked how long the investigation would last, Gowdy told MSNBC, "If an administration is slow-walking document production, I can't end a trial simply because the defense won't cooperate."

On Sunday, Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, noted, "Trials are both criminal and civil. For 16 years I spoke in trial metaphors, and perhaps I need to get out of that habit."

But Becerra noted that there already have been seven investigations by various House committees on the Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks that left four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, dead.

Becerra held up a stack of papers several inches thick and said he has heard no new questions about Benghazi that have not been answered in the previous probes.

Gowdy responded that he still doesn't know where President Barack Obama was during the seven-hour attack, and he hasn't seen the communications between Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He said he also don't know why Americans were still in Benghazi, Libya after every other country and the International Red Cross had pulled out over safety concerns.

"I don't have access to intel. I don't have access to sources and methods," Gowdy said. "I have never interviewed [former U.N. Ambassador] Susan Rice about anything. I have never had an opportunity to ask the Secretary of State about the lead-up to Benghazi and why we were still there."

The current committee structure is fragmented and doesn't allow members of one committee to cross jurisdictional boundaries, Gowdy said. He has been calling for a select committee composed of members from the various panels for a year, but House Speaker John Boehner agreed only after a previously unreleased White House email came to light last week.

That email, from Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, urged Rice, who appeared on all five Sunday talk shows days after the attack, to focus on an anti-Muslim YouTube video as the reason for the attack rather than failed policies of the White House.

Republicans have long held that the White House pushed the video as the reason because it feared a re-election loss if it was discovered that terrorists were responsible.

Becerra on Sunday also repeated Democrats' criticism that Republicans are using the hearings as a fundraising tool. Gowdy says he has never used the deaths of people to raise funds and he called for his colleagues to follow suit.

But he also accused Democrats of "selective amnesia," pointing out that they have raised funds on the Sandy Hook school shooting and Hurricane Katrina, among others.

Boehner has appointed seven Republicans to the committee and allowed for five Democrats, who are in the minority, to sit on the panel.

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Declaring that facts are neither Republican nor Democrat, Rep. Trey Gowdy says the Benghazi select committee he will chair won't be a kangaroo court as some Democrats have charged. I don't run my committees the way that the Democrats are fearful of, the South Carolina...
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