House Democrats on Wednesday demanded an end to a Republican-led investigation into the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, calling the probe a partisan “witch hunt.” Republicans rejected those calls and pledged to press ahead until more is discovered about how four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed.
Senate Republicans said only a special select committee could get answers about what happened that chaotic night and what President Barack Obama was doing. The GOP contends the administration tried to mislead the American people about a terrorist attack in the heat of a presidential campaign.
Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said they had no plans to abandon their effort.
Specifically, Graham was angry with Mike Morell, the CIA’s former deputy director, who testified last week before a House panel about changes he made to the talking points that were used by Susan Rice, then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, in a series of Sunday talk show appearances after the attack.
Morell said his actions were driven by the information provided by intelligence analysts and the Defense Department, and that politics did not influence what he did.
Graham said in a private meeting he had with Morell, Rice and other senators months before the testimony, the CIA official never set the record straight on the talking points.
Reps. Adam Smith of Washington state, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, and Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the multiple inquires and reports have answered the questions surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, assault.
Nineteen months after the attack, Republicans are throwing “as much mud against the wall in hope something sticks,” Smith told reporters at a news conference. “It is time to get past the Benghazi witch hunt.”
But Graham urged the House leadership to end the separate committee investigations and appoint a select committee.