Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he will not form a select committee in the upper chamber to examine the fatal terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, despite a House move to create such a panel.
Reid made the announcement after a top GOP senator told the Washington Examiner he plans to formally ask Reid to create a select committee to look into the matter.
“I'm going to ask our Democratic colleagues, and I'm working on a letter now to have a select committee in the Senate,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told the Examiner. “Let's look at it anew, look at every agency with one set of eyes. A new set of eyes."
Graham said like the House select panel, a Senate select committee should be headed by the majority party.
“Let us do our thing, let the House do their thing,” Graham said. “The Republicans will be in charge in the House and Democrats would be in charge in the Senate and let’s compare work products.”
But Reid, when asked whether he would go along with such a plan, said there was no need for a select committee in the Senate, suggesting the House GOP panel was unnecessary as well.
“Keep in mind, there is no conspiracy here,” Reid said.
Thousands of documents have been turned over to congressional investigators, Reid said, and an internal probe by the State Department produced recommendations that have been implemented.
House Republicans last week moved to create a select committee after the release of a White House email from then-top Obama administration aide Ben Rhodes. The email revealed Rhodes coaching then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to characterize the Benghazi attack as the result of an anti-Muslim video and not terrorism. Rice then appeared on five Sunday talk shows pushing the theory that the attack evolved from a spontaneous protest over the video.
Reid on Tuesday said the Rhodes email hadn’t convinced him of the need to create a select investigation panel. He called it “the latest smoking gun,” and said,” Don’t you think everybody gets some type of preparation before the Sunday shows?”
Republicans contend that Rice and Obama officials were made aware that terrorists were behind the attack but conspired to conceal the information for political purposes.
The attack took place two months before President Obama’s re-election bid.
Graham said if Reid refuses to create a select panel in the Senate, he’ll tell Reid he doesn’t agree with the decision.
“And that must mean you believe we know everything there is to know about Benghazi and you are completely trusting in the administration,” Graham said. “I can say neither.”