Rank-and-file Democrats are leaning toward a boycott after the decision by Republican leaders to spurn a request from Democrats for an equally-divided panel to investigate the 2012 terrorist raid on a U.S. diplomatic compound, which killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya. But ahead of a House vote Thursday to form the committee, Democratic leaders are still weighing their options.
“We’re a little skeptical, like the public is, that this is a real process,” Rep.
At the heart of Democrats’ concern over the panel is the view that it may act as a more prominent staging ground for attacks against former Secretary of State
And if past or current administration officials were called to testify, including Clinton, Democrats would benefit by having a presence. "There's certainly an argument to be made for having a seat at the table," said Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank). "I come down on the side of not wanting to lend a partisan stunt more credibility than it deserves."
Clinton, who was secretary of State at the time of the attack, weighed in Wednesday, telling ABC's Robin Roberts in an interview that she didn't believe there was any reason to continue an investigation. "There are a lot of reasons why, despite all of the hearings, all of the information that's been provided, some choose not to be satisfied," she said. "That's their choice."
Boehner earlier defended the need for a new special committee to take over investigatory work that has been done thus far by four separate standing committees, including House Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Rep.
"This is all about getting to the truth," Boehner said. "It's not going to be a sideshow. It's not going to be a circus. This is a serious investigation."
But after details of the proposed committee emerged Tuesday, House Minority Leader
"If you truly want this new select committee to be bipartisan and fair – and to be taken seriously by the American people – we call on you to reconsider this approach," the leaders wrote to Boehner. "Another partisan review that serves only to politicize these attacks is disrespectful and unworthy of the American people."
There have been four ad-hoc select committees formed by the House since the committee process was reformed in 1974. For each, the majority party at the time had more seats. The last such committee, formed in 2005 to investigate the planning and response to
South Carolina Rep.
“I would encourage you to watch the process. I think the process matters every bit as much as the result,” he said in an interview on
Many Democrats appeared to favor a boycott at this stage. Becerra cited members’ concern that it would only extend a GOP “witch hunt.” Rep.
Another member of the Democratic leadership suggested the new panel was an admission that Issa had been overly aggressive in his committee's handling of the investigation. "This is the full neutering of Chairman Issa and his 16 months of work," said Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), the Democratic Caucus vice chair.
Multiple Democratic leadership officials said no final decision had been made about how to proceed, and may not come down until after Thursday's vote.
A Boehner aide said the speaker would probably appoint the six remaining Republican panelists by Friday, adding that it was his hope that Democrats would participate as well.
In the MSNBC interview, Gowdy maintained that the nature of the probe would depend on both sides acting in good faith.