Representative Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.), the chairman of the special panel investigating the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, voiced a new level of frustration with his Democratic counterpart today.
Gowdy accused Representative Elijah Cummings of helping the Obama administration to hide Benghazi records. “Worse than inaction, you have enabled this failure to produce and contributed to a culture of intentional non-compliance and correspondingly incomplete public record [sic],” he wrote in a biting letter to the Maryland Democrat that accompanied the release of longtime Clinton loyalist Sidney Blumenthal’s emails to Hillary Clinton.
The letter marks a departure from the conciliatory tone that Republicans adopted with respect to Cummings after being embarrassed by the public deterioration of his relationship with then-House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa. Gowdy and Issa’s successor, Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz took the helm of their respective committees while promising to work closely with Cummings. Months later, Gowdy is running into the same problems that Issa faced.
Cummings called for Gowdy to release the transcript of Sidney Blumenthal’s private testimony before the committee. Gowdy refused, citing the same concern that the transcript would tip off future witnesses “to lines of inquiry best not made public,” just as Issa had before him.
“Your stated support of transparency has not been reinforced by your actions and has done nothing to spur the State Department to action so that we may complete the essential tasks we have been assigned,” Gowdy wrote. “If you are genuinely interested in helping accelerate the pace with which our Committee discharges its responsibilities, call President Obama or Secretary Kerry and ask for the complete, timely production of relevant documents. The failure to do so may allow one to conclude your call for transparency is more of a talking point than a committed principle.”
That’s a more combative tone than Gowdy has taken in the past. “I have known you to be a fair partner and expect for that cooperation to continue,” he wrote to Cummings in the midst of a disagreement in January.
#related#Cummings, for his part, replied to the new letter by accusing Gowdy of maliciously targeting Hillary Clinton in advance of the 2016 elections. “By the Chairman’s own admission, these emails have absolutely nothing to do with the attacks in Benghazi, and their selective release demonstrates the Select Committee’s singular focus on attacking Hillary Clinton and her bid for president.”
Blumenthal’s emails show that he was forwarding Clinton intelligence memos written by a former CIA operative, that he helped craft her talking points after the fall of Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi, and that he told her the Benghazi attack was carried out by people who were angry about an anti-Islamic YouTube video.
“The new emails produced by Mr. Blumenthal to the Committee are squarely within the jurisdiction of the Committee,” Gowdy wrote.
— Joel Gehrke is a political reporter for National Review.