The select House committee investigating the Benghazi attacks has made strides in learning the details of the assaults that killed four Americans 2012, Republican Chairman Trey Gowdy said Friday while slamming the Obama administration as "the greatest impediment to completing this investigation in a timely matter."
"We look forward to completing our work in a manner that is worthy of the sacrifice made by the four men who died and trust of our fellow Americans," Gowdy, who represents South Carolina, said in a report marking the panel's first anniversary.
But the committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, blasted the investigation as a "political charade" that has so far cost American taxpayers $3 million and is being "dragged out in order to attack" former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is seeking her party's 2016 presidential nomination.
"At every turn, the select committee comes up with a new excuse to further delay its work," Cummings said. "Republicans are desperately trying to validate the $3 million in taxpayer funds they have spent over the past year, but they have nothing to show for it other than a partisan attack against Secretary Clinton and her campaign for president."
The Benghazi committee was created last year by House Speaker John Boehner, and consists of seven Republicans and five Democrats. The panel is among four House committees investigating the attacks. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and two former Navy SEALs were among the four Americans who died.
In January 2013, Clinton testified
to lawmakers in both the House and Senate on the attacks. She has agreed to appear before the Benghazi committee and has handed over 30,000 official emails over to the State Department for public preservation.
In his 15-page report
, Gowdy noted that in the past year the committee has:
- Received more than 20,000 emails and other documents from the State Department that have been "never before released to Congress."
- Obtained "hundreds of pages of emails never before seen by Congress" from the White House, the Justice Department and intelligence agencies.
- Acquired an additional 15,000 pages of documents after more than two dozen "classified and unclassified" briefings with Obama administration agencies.
- Received communications to and from Clinton for the first time, including those showing that the former secretary had used "a private email account to conduct official State Department business."
- Produced nearly 100 hours of interviews and 2,500 pages of testimony from "survivors of the terrorist attacks and others who are giving indispensable first-hand accounts of what happened before, during and after the attacks." Another 60 witnesses are to be interviewed "in the coming months."
- Met with the families of the victims of the attacks. "The meetings offered the families an opportunity to be heard and to provide their insight to the committee." The panel has also "met with the respective agencies to discuss survivorship benefits to ensure the families of the victims received benefits to which they were entitled."
- Obtained nearly 50 reports from the FBI on Benghazi, including 18 on the "interrogation and prosecution" of Ahmed Abu Khattala, the alleged mastermind of the attacks who was captured last June.
"I am proud of what a professional team of investigators, committed to uncovering all the facts, has been able to accomplish since the committee was created," Gowdy said.
But in a separate report, Cummings retorted that the Benghazi panel has been "operating at a glacial pace" — including not sending first requests for documents from the State Department, the Defense Department, the CIA and the National Security Agency, until at least six months after the committee was created.
"The select committee has held only three hearings, two of which were proposed by Democrats, averaging $1 million per hearing," Cummings said.
Furthermore, the panel "has not held a hearing in three months," even though Gowdy said in December that it would do so in each of the first three months of the year.
He said the Benghazi investigation has lasted longer than such inquiries as Iran-Contra, Hurricane Katrina, the John F. Kennedy assassination and the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese in 1941.
"The select committee is on track to last longer than the investigations of Watergate and 9/11 — at a potential cost of more than $6 million," Cummings said.
He also noted that the anti-Clinton Stop Hillary PAC has sent out email solicitations seeking donations using Gowdy's image and his position as the committee's chairman in order to "support Trey Gowdy and continue the select committee on Benghazi."
"Despite its focus on Secretary Clinton," Cummings concluded, "the select committee has identified no evidence to support claims that Secretary Clinton ordered a stand-down, approved an illicit weapons program, or any other wild allegation Republicans have made about her for years."
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.