Nineteen months after the attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans, a court ordered the White House to produce emails that congressional Republicans said show a politically motivated agenda.
The email was part of a Freedom of Information request filed by Judicial Watch, the Washington-based government watchdog.
“The email is devastating,” said Sen. John S. McCain III (R.-Ariz.) about the revelation. “Because it shows that three days after the attack, their goal was not to inform the American people what happened but shape the story to help the President get re-elected.”
Speaker of the House John A. Boehner (R.- Ohio) said the Obama administration is intent on obstructing the truth about Benghazi including defying subpoenas.
The speaker said he would establish a select committee to investigate the attacks on Benghazi.
“In light of these new developments, the House will vote to establish a new select committee to investigate the attack, provide the necessary accountability, and ensure justice is finally served,” he said in a statement.
The Obama administration appear to be hiding documents and information from the Congress and the American people undermining our trust, he said.
“The administration’s withholding of documents – emails showing greater White House involvement in misleading the American people – is a flagrant violation of trust and undermines the basic principles of oversight upon which our system of government is built.”
McCain said the American people need to know what really happened in Benghazi.
The narrative of the White House seven weeks before Election Day and shortly after the attack on Sept. 11, 2012, was that Al Qaida is decimated, the embassy is safe and secure, and that the attack occurred as a result of a protest of a YouTube video at the Benghazi consulate, said McCain. “None of those facts are true.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R.- S.C.) said he was impressed by the testimony of retired Air Force brigadier general Robert Lovell, who was United States Africa Command “J-2,” or the general in-charge of the intelligence shop.
In particular, the retired general testified that the theory put out by the White House that the attack was a result of a YouTube video protest was dismissed early on inside the AFRICOM operations center, said Graham. “The general said there was no evidence of protests outside the compound and the video had nothing to do with the attack.”
McCain said he was skeptical of the White House claims that what is now being called a “smoking gun” email was in reference to protests elsewhere in the Middle East and Africa, and not pertaining to Benghazi.
“This is a cover-up of a situation that is politically motivated,” he said.
The speaker said he was asserting the prerogatives of Congress.
It is clear that questions remain and the president still does not respect the authority of Congress to provide proper oversight, said Boehner. “This dismissiveness and evasion requires us to elevate the investigation to a new level.”
Boehner wants former prosecutor Rep. Harold W. “Trey” Gowdy (R-S.C.) to lead the new committee.
In response to the announcement, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.), said: “While Republicans try to gin up yet another political food fight, Senate Democrats will remain focused on fostering economic growth for all hard-working Americans.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.- K.Y.) said in a statement that the White House is intentionally withholding pertinent information. “The Obama administration’s ongoing reluctance to provide information and documentation voluntarily to the American people and their representatives has created the need for additional action by the House of Representatives.”
The select committee will have robust authority, and will work quickly to get answers for the American people and the families of the victims, said Boehner.
“Four Americans died at the hands of terrorists nearly 20 months ago, and we are still missing answers, accountability, and justice. It’s time that change.”