GOP Leader’s Gaffe Confirms That the Mission of the House Benghazi Hearings Is to Make Clinton’s Poll Numbers Drop

On Fox, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy admitted that the purpose of the GOP's eighth Benghazi investigation is to bring down Hillary Clinton's poll numbers
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Fox this week

“A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth – some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.”
— Michael Kinsley

In an interview on Fox earlier this week, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the current House majority leader and presumptive next speaker, tacitly admitted that the true mission of the current (and eighth or ninth) Benghazi investigation is to bring down Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers.

Here’s the review:

  • McCarthy’s truth gaffe:

    “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? 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 have known that any of that had happened had we not fought to make that happen.”

  • Hillary Clinton’s response:

    “When I hear a statement like that, which demonstrates unequivocally that this was always meant to be a partisan political exercise, I feel like it does a grave disservice and dishonors not just the memory of the four that we lost, but of everybody who has served our country.”

  • Caitlyn MacNeal at TPM.com:

    The Select Committee on Benghazi has already cost the American tax payers over $4.5 million on what the House Majority Leader has now made clear is nothing more than a political attack against Secretary Clinton. This investigation is one of the longest in Congressional history, surpassing the length of the Watergate Committee, the Joint Committee investigating Pearl Harbor, the Warren Commission, and the Iran Contra investigation.

  • Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., The Benghazi Witch Hunt, from June 2014:

    Nine different House and Senate committees have already investigated the attacks; 13 hearings have been conducted; 50 briefings have taken place; 25 transcribed interviews have been conducted; eight subpoenas have been issued; more than 25,000 pages of documents have been reviewed; six congressional reports have been released. But, dissatisfied with the results of these exhaustive reviews, the GOP has now created an openly partisan panel with only one goal: to further politicize this tragedy.

  • Simon Maloy at Salon.com:

    This is an archetypal example of the Kinsley Gaffe: a politician accidentally uttering a truthful statement. Anyone who’s paid even cursory attention to the GOP’s treatment of the Benghazi attacks will likely have already concluded that the party’s interest in the matter is linked to Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions. But it’s still bracing to see one of the most powerful Republicans in Washington come right out and brag about how he and his colleagues set up a taxpayer-funded investigation to damage the political prospects of the opposition party’s leading presidential candidate. It’s downright scandalous, and precisely the sort of political corruption that Republicans argue is at the heart of the Obama administration’s response to Benghazi.

    No less remarkable is the fact that McCarthy offered up the politicized Benghazi investigation as an “example” of how he would conduct business as Speaker of the House. He just put it right out there and told Sean Hannity that the McCarthy Congress will be a series of investigations aimed at hurting the Democrats’ chances of electoral success.

  • E.J. Dionne, in the Washington Post:

    So now we know: One of the principal reasons Republicans spent so much public money investigating the tragic Benghazi episode was to bring down Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers.

  • The Hill, Dems Descend on McCarthy: Shut Down Benghazi Panel:

    “I believe it is time to end this investigation,” committee member Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) said in a statement.

    She also called for McCarthy, committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to “apologize” for “abusing the memories” of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the three other Americans killed during the attack on a U.S. compound in the Libyan city in 2012.

    “The decent thing to do is to wrap up the committee’s work as soon as possible,” said Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), another member of the committee and a 2016 Senate candidate. “[T]he majority leader’s partisan disclosure breaks the promise we made to the victims’ families to make sure a tragedy of this magnitude never happens again.”

    Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the panel who also serves as the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, first called for the committee to be dismantled earlier this month.

    Senior Democrats who are not on the panel also were quick to throw punches in the wake of McCarthy’s Tuesday evening comments.

    “Even those who wanted to give this committee the benefit of the doubt should now admit it’s time to shut it down,” said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), who serves as ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

    “The circus needs to pack up and leave town.”

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