By way of background, Republicans have reached a fever pitch about the embassy attack in Benghazi in the past couple of weeks owing to a recently released email by White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes. This email contained talking points on several issues, including Benghazi, for then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to use for her appearances on the Sunday show circuit in the aftermath of the attack. The email contains nothing revelatory and contributes nothing new to the conversation beyond what we already know, and what has already been reported in major media outlets: that the White House crafted talking points based off the inaccurate information that the CIA provided regarding the motivation for the attack.
The White House has already acknowledged this, and has already accepted responsibility for the security failure. But that is not stopping House Republicans from claiming with no documentation that there was a cover-up, because, reasons.
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Previous Benghazi probes have found absolutely nothing, but have cost millions of dollars and thousands of personnel hours. And even though this latest investigation will have exactly the same result as the previous ones, the House voted along essentially partisan lines to create yet another committee—and the panel is so popular among Republicans that 206 members of their caucus have applied for the six positions available.
But if there were ever any question that Republican motivations for this new effort have nothing to do with Ambassador Stevens and three others who lost their lives there, and are all about seeking political advantage and firing up the donor base, Republican activities since then have more than amply proved the case. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chair of this newly created committee, presumably wants the job he does to be taken seriously, but one has to wonder if he even knows what that job is. In response to a question by MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, Gowdy seemed to imply that his perception of his job as committee chair is to put Democrats on trial:
...if an administration is slow-walking document production, I can’t end a trial simply because the defense won’t cooperate.”But even Gowdy draws a line at using his committee as a fundraising tool. He may want to put Democrats on trial, but using it to raise money is a bridge too far, even for him. The National Republican Congressional Committee, however, has other ideas. Despite Gowdy's exhortations not to, the National Republican Congressional Committee sent a fundraising email to its list about the investigative panel before it had even been formally created, and the NRCC's subsequent activities have been equally devoid of tact.
The NRCC has established a new microsite, benghaziwatchdogs.com. Clicking on the main graphic on the site takes viewers to a page claiming that "no one will get away from Gowdy and the Select Committee" and encouraging donations to "fight liberals." The page is even adorned with a GIF graphic claiming that "without you, they will control America." Well, so much for honoring the four dead Americans by "finding out what really happened," right?
It turns out, of course, that playing such crass politics has negative consequences. The NRCC has been reamed for its activities in a wide array of media outlets, and Speaker Boehner is refusing to answer repeated inquiries about the blatant efforts of his caucus to profit off the creation of the committee.
Not that any of that matters to Republican leadership. Now that their opposition to Obamacare has become an embarrassment for them, they are looking for a new issue to hang their hat on while rallying their base and avoiding a leadership coup. After all, it's like Pete Sessions says: If there's a witch-hunt on, that must mean there's a witch out there. Somewhere.