POLITICS: PennAve

Speaker John Boehner taps Trey Gowdy to head Benghazi select committee

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House Speaker John Boehner named Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. to head a select committee to investigate the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Gowdy, a former prosecutor, topped the list of Republican lawmakers Boehner was considering to head the panel. The South Carolina lawmaker won his seat in the 2010 election that returned the Republicans to the majority in the House thanks to a new group of Republican members elected with the help of the Tea Party. Gowdy is a top member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, aggressively questioning witnesses at several hearings the panel has held on the Benghazi attacks.

"Trey Gowdy is as dogged, focused, and serious-minded as they come," Boehner said. "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."

Boehner announced Friday that the House would create a special committee to investigate the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Libya that left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. He pulled the trigger on the panel after a lawsuit filed by a conservative activist group forced the Obama administration to release copies of emails that it had failed to provide to congressional investigators.

"Twenty months after the Benghazi attacks, there remain unresolved questions about why the security was inadequate, our response during the siege itself, and our government's interaction with the public after the attack," Gowdy said in a statement. "All of those lines of inquiry are legitimate and should be apolitical. Facts are neither red nor blue.While people are free to draw different conclusions from the facts, there should be no debate over whether the American public is entitled to have all of the facts. In a courtroom, juries are free to believe one witness over a hundred witnesses. But you cannot make that or any other credibility determination if you do not have access to all relevant witnesses, documents and other tangible evidence."

Republican leaders said they formed the committee because they believe the administration has stonewalled them in response to their inquiries about how the administration handled the attack.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Gowdy's experience as a prosecutor, "will be an enormous value as he and his fellow committee members seek out the facts of what happened in Benghazi, Libya, and how the administration responded to that terror attack. After years of obstruction, it's time the American people finally get all the answers, and Trey will ensure that happens."

Clues to the other lawmakers Boehner may appoint to the select committee might be found in the members of an informal panel he created to look into the deadly assault. Late last year, he had two members each from four of the five standing committees that have been investigating Benghazi begin meeting separately.

Besides Gowdy, they include: Intelligence Committee members Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., who served as the informal panel's chairman; Oversight and Government Reform Committee member Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah; and Armed Services Committee members Mike Conaway, R-Texas, and Joe Heck, R-Nev., who also serve on the Intelligence Committee.

Additionally, Boehner asked Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-Pa., to participate because of his prosecutorial background and to bring a fresh perspective. Gerlach does not serve on any of the five committees of jurisdiction that have been jointly investigating the Benghazi attack, which include the Foreign Affairs and Judiciary panels. Nunes discussed Boehner’s informal Benghazi committee on Friday during a radio interview with conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt.

“There has been an ad hoc group of members that the speaker put together several months ago that’s basically, I think, a precursor to what would ultimately become this new select committee,” Nunes said. “And my guess is that he’s going to look to those members first, because those are the members who have been putting in the work and know a lot of the facts on the case.”

The House must formally vote to create the committee, and sources said Monday that Republican staff is drafting a resolution and that the vote could be held this week.

“The #SelectCommttee on #Benghazi will have robust authority & will work quickly get answers,” Boehner said Monday in a tweet.

Chief Congressional Correspondent Susan Ferrechio contributed to this story.

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