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McCarthy on Eve of House Speaker Vote: 'Benghazi is Not Political'

McCarthy on Eve of House Speaker Vote: 'Benghazi is Not Political'
(AP)

Wednesday, 07 October 2015 01:51 PM

The front-runner to succeed U.S. House Speaker John Boehner again sought to walk back remarks about House Republicans’ Benghazi investigation into Hillary Clinton a day before party members will choose who they want for the top job.

“Don’t use politics to try to change this around,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, told reporters who asked about his comment last month that the investigation caused Clinton’s poll numbers to drop.

Boehner, who’s leaving Congress at the end of October, rose to McCarthy’s defense during the news conference Wednesday in Washington.   “There’s not one American who in the course of their lifetime wouldn’t rather have the opportunity to say words over again,” said Boehner of Ohio.

McCarthy said on Fox News Sept. 29 that “everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?” He added, “But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would’ve known any of that had happened had we not fought and made that happen.”

He was referring to a House special committee investigating the deaths of four Americans in the September 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, when Clinton was secretary of state. Clinton’s presidential campaign and Democrats in Congress seized on his statement as proof the House investigation is a political witch hunt, and some of McCarthy’s Republican colleagues complained that he’d helped give a new bounce to her campaign.

‘More Clear’

“Let’s be very clear, Benghazi is not political,” McCarthy said Wednesday. He said the committee “was created for one purpose and one purpose only -- to find the truth on behalf of the families of four dead Americans. Period.”

At another point, he acknowledged, “I could have been more clear in my description of what was going forward.” It was the latest of several attempts by McCarthy to explain his remarks.

House Republicans plan to vote behind closed doors Thursday for their nominee to succeed Boehner. The full House, including Democrats, will vote in a speaker election Oct. 29. McCarthy is viewed by colleagues as the likely winner among the 247 House Republicans as their choice for top party leader over rivals Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Daniel Webster of Florida.

‘No Agreement’

At the same news conference, Boehner wouldn’t tip his hand on what he hopes to accomplish before he leaves Congress. A number of must-do items are looming. Among them, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has said lawmakers need to raise the debt limit by early November.

“There’s no agreement on how to do this,” Boehner said. “There are discussions about how to do it, but nothing else to report at this time.”

Boehner, McCarthy and other House leaders appeared at the news conference after a closed-door meeting among House Republicans Wednesday morning.

Before that meeting, Representative Walter Jones of North Carolina said in a letter that any candidate for the top three leadership jobs should withdraw if there are “any misdeeds he has committed since joining Congress that will embarrass himself, the Republican conference, or the House of Representatives if they become public.”

Jones told reporters he knows of no such cases. He said he wants party members to avoid what happened in 1998 when then- Representative Bob Livingston of Louisiana suddenly announced, after being chosen to succeed Newt Gingrich as speaker, that he couldn’t serve because of marital infidelity. Republicans had to regroup, eventually picking Dennis Hastert of Illinois as the speaker.

Jones told reporters that misdeeds could include even a conviction for driving while intoxicated. “I truly don’t know of anything,” he insisted.


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The front-runner to succeed U.S. House Speaker John Boehner again sought to walk back remarks about House Republicans' Benghazi investigation into Hillary Clinton a day before party members will choose who they want for the top job."Don't use politics to try to change this...
mccarthy, benghazi, political, comments
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2015-51-07
Wednesday, 07 October 2015 01:51 PM
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