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What McCarthy Really Said About the Benghazi Committee

What McCarthy Really Said About the Benghazi Committee

It’s not all about Hillary

BREAKING: a politician said a stupid thing on TV last night.

By now, you’ve probably seen breathless coverage of House Majority Leader and presumed future Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) comments propping up the Select Committee on Benghazi as an example of House Republicans’ efforts to fight for conservative principles. He appeared in an interview with Sean Hannity last night, and after 4 minutes of back-and-forth, fumbled a damaging talking point:

“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 any of that had happened, had we not fought…”

Hannity interrupted McCarthy here, but it was enough. Pundits and journalists latched on to the gaffe, making hay out of an already contentious issue.

David Weigel at WaPo [emphasis mine]:

The interview ran late Tuesday night, giving Hillary Clinton’s campaign and allies time to prepare a counterattack. They — and Democrats, generally — had always described the May 2014 creation of the Select Committee on Benghazi as a political fishing expedition. All of a sudden, McCarthy was saying so, just to mollify a partisan conservative TV host. Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon quickly argued as much on Twitter.

McCarthy’s answer was indeed at odds with 16 months of Republican talking points on the investigation, led by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.). Whenever he was asked if the committee was political, outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner typically expressed disgust at the mere suggestion. Democrats were talking politics while lifetime prosecutor Trey Gowdy was talking about events that led to the murders of four Americans.

He wasn’t “saying so.” He said that the American people would not know now what they do about Clinton had it not been for the committee’s investigations.

Did he say it stupidly? Yes. But he did not say what you claim he said.

Chris Cillizza, also at WaPo, takes a slightly different tack, but also paints the comments as concerning:

While McCarthy isn’t directly contradicting Boehner’s past justifications for the Benghazi committee, he quite clearly is painting the committee’s work in a political light and tying the committee’s work to Clinton’s poll slippage. While anyone with a brain would have concluded a while ago that the Benghazi committee wasn’t solely about policy, having the man who is about to be the next speaker of the Republican-controlled House say exactly that is not smart. At all.

What McCarthy said was not smart, but I don’t believe anyone “had” him say it. Watch the video again: Hannity’s guns were blazing, and he was definitely trying to press McCarthy on his previous work with Republican leadership. McCarthy slipped up. Everyone—including Hannity, McCarthy, and the various journalists having a free for all with this—knows that Hillary’s dip in the polls is a pleasant side effect of the work Trey Gowdy and the Benghazi committee members are doing, but to suggest that policy and politics should not cross during the course of a congressional investigation is to suggest an impossibility. Yet is the alternate scenario that the media is now using to prove that McCarthy “admitted” that the Benghazi committee is all about elections.


Congressional Democrats are having a field day with the clip, demanding the dissolution of the committee:

“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 an 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.”

The comments also raise questions about McCarthy’s ability to serve as the next leader of the House GOP. The California Republican has only been in Congress for nine years, and his apparent off-the-cuff remarks likely inspired concern about whether he was sufficiently tested to serve as Speaker of the House.

McCarthy’s comments are blowing up because they fall neatly in line with what Democrats have been complaining about since Republicans formed the committee last May, which is why I’m standing up for McCarthy on this one. You may not like him, or his tactics, or the role he played in Boehner’s House, but allowing the media and the Democrats to run away with this one would constitute an actual disservice to Gowdy, the committee, and the men who lost their lives in Benghazi.

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Sammy Finkelman | September 30, 2015 at 5:14 pm

I think Kevin McCarthy’s point was it is valuable to have a Congressional investigating committee – sometimes it will serendipitously discover important things and that’s enough to justify establishing it.

The Select Committee was indeed responsible for discovering that Hillary Clinton was using a private e-mail address and server (because of their wide-ranging subpoenas) and so it was a good thing it was established. But the committee was not established to find out something bad about Hillary Clinton. It was established to find out the truth about all aspects of the Benghazi attack, before, during, and after, including how a piece of absurd propaganda about a spontaneous unplanned attack became the official U.S. government position for explaining what took place.

McCarthy didn’t exactly explain why the committee led to Hillary Clinton’s drop in the polls, so some people were able to put their own false spin on this. But anybody who has followed events closely knows exactly what he was talking about.

What was discovered was 100% true. And worthy of concern.

In fact, there’s more they have’t gone into – in public anyway – like who was really writing the analytical foreign affairs e-mails that Sidney Blumenthal attributed to the now-late Tyler Drumheller that Hillary Clinton would forward to Jake Sullivan for further forwarding within the
U.S. government. Hillary wanted to get back the reaction, and presumably, we have to assume, if we are not being deliberatly naive, that she was reporting back to Sidney Blumenthal how plausible they were being considered.

Some she actually half apologized to Jake Sullivan for forwarding. Jake Sullivan would strip out all mention of Hillary’s source (Sidney Blumenthal) before forwarding – and now Sidney Blumenthal has testified that he wasn’t really the author. Sidney Blumenthal was just the first layer of the onion. It’s probably a matryoshka doll.

This party is beyond hope.

Maybe we should all cynically declare that there was no chance for a committee to even get to the bottom of Benghazi – because it hasn’t – and even less of a chance that it would prevent similar things from happening again, because Congress is weak, toothless, and impotent, and has no such power, at least as it presently exists.

Perhaps we should accept that neither party actually cares about preventing future calamities and that the only thing being done is assaulting or protecting the political reputation of one Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The idea we should credit the Democrats for caring about the nation as little as Republicans do strikes me as odd, but maybe it’s besides the point.

A broken clock moment for Amy. Suppose you have to get something right every once in a while.


Our Speaker of the House shouldn’t look all tanned, rested and silky-haired. He should look exhausted and starving, as if he hasn’t eaten or slept for days, because he’s been busy doing the work we sent him there to do.

This one looks like he spent the week throwing back cocktails with Pelosi and Oprah at Martha’s Vineyard.

    Estragon in reply to Fen. | September 30, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    A young manager at the Fortune 100 company where I worked openly questioned my work ethic in a meeting, pointing out his longer hours. “Do they pay you to work?” I asked.

    “Yes, and I earn every dime!” he answered.

    “There is where we are different,” I replied, “They pay me to manage.”

    A manager who is sweating and exhausted is likely a poor manager.

nothing burger; McCarthy’s a smooth talking politician.

however “courts stopped amnesty” WTF that’s a bald faced lie.

“McCarthy’s comments are blowing up because they fall neatly in line with what Democrats have been complaining about since Republicans formed the committee last May, which is why I’m standing up for McCarthy on this one. You may not like him, or his tactics, or the role he played in Boehner’s House, but allowing the media and the Democrats to run away with this one would constitute an actual disservice to Gowdy, the committee, and the men who lost their lives in Benghazi.”

But…huh? It is precisely McCarthy’s ill chosen words that allow the media and the Democrats to ‘run away with this one’, constituting a disservice to Gowdy, the committee, and the men who lost their lives in Benghazi. McCarthy fed them a perfect soundbite, a perfect clip. Why would anyone stand up for the guy who did that?

McCarthy may not be ready for prime time if dealing with Hannity is sufficient to knock him off his usual talking points so easily and self-defeatingly.

Even with the poor wording, it requires a willful misunderstanding of what McCarthy said to defend Hillary. Without the Benghazi Committee, we would never even have known about the secret private server. State would have known, but wouldn’t have spilled the beans.

No. One of the complaints about Republican leadership is their total inability to put out a message that helps the party. If McCarthy can’t do any better than this, then he should bow out of the speaker’s race and leave it to someone who can think on their feet.

    I looked McCarthy up on Wikipedia. He’s an MBA with a Bachelor degree in marketing. He obviously thinks that packaging the message is of vital importance.. …but he exposed too much of the pinkie fingertip deep level of gravitas involved in his assessment of the role and function of the Select Committee on Benghazi.

What he said was…

1. truthful, and

2. innocuous

Eleven minutes is about the length of the average closing argument in a modest jury trial. Attorneys would LOVE to go home after making a closing argument that ONLY contained as small an error as that very minor “poor wording”.

The Collective will make crap up, and they will distort ANYTHING people say. As we all know.

    I would have hoped McCarthy could have been smarter than this. Benghazi is about more than just Hillary, but if Hillary’s numbers dive as a result, so be it. Benghazi is about 4 dead very brave Americans, and an inept Administration that cared more about their own hide. Not to mention their need to suppress free speech by blaming it on an ineffectual video. They tried the same thing with F&F, it was all about suppressing the 2nd Amendment. McCarthy should have been wiser. No Speakership for him, I pray.

I can’t even stand listening to the man. Can we PLEASE find a Republican leader who doesn’t sound like a twit? Can’t we hire Gerard Butler for PR or something?

    Estragon in reply to Casey. | October 1, 2015 at 2:45 am

    May I ever so humbly suggest the time to plan on Boehner’s successor was BEFORE the moves to oust him began and NOT after he has resigned the post?

    If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

I don’t support McCarthy for speaker, but I’d like to have an effective speaker.

Did Nanny Pelosi never say anything MUCH worse than this in the world of stupid she’s spun? HELL yah!

What did her supporters do? Yep. They just SUPPORTED her.

We bitch and moan about slick pols just speaking in sound bites. Ever wonder why they do that?

One of the things I think it might be useful for conservatives to do is adjust our thinking to support human beings, and to SUPPORT them. Not when they’re wrong. When they’re just human.

It’s a trait we could learn from out enemies.

Ted Nugent for Speaker.

“What McCarthy said was not smart, but I don’t believe anyone “had” him say it.”

That’s even worse. The idiot does this of his own volition. Is he a relative of Gropin’ Joe Biden?!

If it hadn’t been this sound bite from McCarthy, it would have been another one. McCarthy is more willing to at least give conservatives a hearing, and is therefore less in the Dems camp than Boehner is/was. Therefore, he must and will be attacked.

As Steven Hayward over at PowerLine remarked: “Who needs Pavlov when you have liberals?”

Henry Hawkins | October 1, 2015 at 10:59 pm

McCarthy just informed the opposition and the media (but I repeat myself) that the Benghazi investigation was about sinking Hillary. It isn’t likely what he meant, but he’s stuck with what he said. McCarthy’s “mentor”, Boehner, will now spend a goodly part of his short time left as speaker defending this boneheaded remark. Not that I care, bu geez. The minute I heard the soundbite on the news, it was a total facepalm.

You watch – Dems will now abandon their seats on the Benghazi committee, ask for investigations of all GOP-led congressional investions, and demand that someone other than McCarthy be made speaker. And doesn’t that sound just like the current GOPe to hand control over who becomes the GOP Speaker of the House to the Democrat Party? lol, it’s unbelievable what these guys do.

Who ya gonna believe, Amy Miller or your lying ears? lol