After spending 17 months and $8 million taxpayer dollars, the House Select Committee on Benghazi has uncovered nothing. Thursday, the committee grilled former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for a record 11 hours. At the end of the long day, the Republican chairman of the committee, Rep. Trey Gowdy, admitted nothing new was learned. A more accurate statement would be that Republicans could not lay a glove on Hillary Clinton. She was unscathed, as CNN put it.
There had been six Congressional investigations of Benghazi before this committee was established. All six found no wrong doing by Secretary Clinton. During the 17-month investigation—longer than the Watergate investigation— Clinton was the only official asked to testify before the committee. That fact alone raises concerns that the committee was not interested in finding solutions. They were looking to find problems—problems for Hillary Clinton.
Democrats have long accused Republicans of establishing the committee for the sole purpose of taking down Clinton before the 2016 presidential election. Recently, several Republicans have made public statements indicating that Hillary Clinton was indeed the focus of the committee. A Republican staffer on the committee claims he was fired for objecting to being directed to focus solely on Hillary Clinton. He has filed a law suit.
Republicans forced Clinton to answer questions for 11 hours—a record for any witness before any committee. The committee members took turns so they were able to rest in between. Secretary Clinton had no rest. She had to answer all the questions. Her answers were constantly interrupted by Republicans who seemed uninterested in actually hearing her answers. Their motive was to wear her down hoping that if she tired, she would slip up or shout back.
Clinton remained her composure, however, despite continual attacks by Republicans on the committee. The only shouting and anger took place between the members of the committee. It was downright ugly from time to time.
Except for FOX News, the main stream media has largely reported Friday that nothing new was learned during the hearing. Republicans needed a gotcha moment to derail Clinton’s campaign. They did not land any punches. They have no actual sound bites to exploit. Clinton, on the other hand, has a great sound bite from the chairman indicating that they learned nothing new. She also has great sound bites from some Republicans indicating that the committee was intended to bring down Hillary Clinton—at taxpayer expense.
Republicans were essentially silent on Friday. They are not doing interviews touting what a great job they did exposing Hillary. FOX News even cut off its live coverage of the hearing hours before it concluded. Apparently they did not find anything sensational enough to report. Clinton, on the other hand, was doing interviews all day Friday, including her first ever interview on The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC.
Evangelical preacher and multi-millionaire, Franklin Graham, weighed in on the hearing saying that our nation is in serious trouble. “We need new leadership — leaders that understand the importance of God’s laws and biblical morality,” Graham said. It was unclear who he thought did not understand the importance of God’s laws. “To be honest with you, I’m not sure if we’ll ever know the truth about what happened at Benghazi,” Graham said. “Those lives won’t ever be brought back.”
Graham’s statement goes to the heart of the Benghazi matter. Republicans cannot accept the truth when they uncover it during investigation after investigation, hearing after hearing. They keep on investigating, hoping to find a truth that is more to their liking. Perhaps they feel that if they find the “true” truth, those four Americans will rise again as Graham hinted. Or just maybe, the whole exercise is politically motivated. They know they can’t win on their policies, so they feel they have to demonize and tear down the opposition to have a shot at the White House.
If the Republican goal was to bring down Hillary Clinton, they fell far short. They lost the audience about an hour into the spectacle. After that, it was just self-aggrandizing theater.