Another Bad Day for the Benghazi Committee

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U.S. House Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy speaks with the panel's ranking member, Representative Elijah Cummings, during a lunch break while deposing Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime Hillary Clinton friend who was an unofficial adviser while she was secretary of state, in a private session at the U.S. Capitol in Washington June 16. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

If it’s Sunday, it must be Benghazi time. The 17-month-long quest by the House Select Committee on Benghazi to find an Obama administration conspiracy related to the 2012 terror attacks in Libya took another bashing on the Sunday, on and off the air.

Already wobbling with accusations, some by its own Republican members, that it’s been running a Hillary Clinton hit squad since May 2014, leaders of the panel struggled Sunday to fend off new charges that they had mischaracterized the former secretary of state’s handling of sensitive intelligence.

In a letter on Sunday, Representative Elijah Commings, the panel’s top Democrat, blasted committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina) for accusing Clinton of sending emails from her private server containing “some of the most protected information in our intelligence community, the release of which could jeopardize not only national security but human lives.”  

“The problem with your accusation—as with so many others during this investigation,” Cummings responded in a letter Sunday, “is that you failed to check your facts before you made it, and the CIA has now informed the Select Committee that you were wrong.”

Indeed, according to committee correspondence reviewed by Newsweek, the CIA did tell the panel on Saturday that it had reviewed 127 emails between Clinton and her close friend and outside adviser, Sidney Blumenthal, and none of it was deemed classified.

“The CIA reviewed the material in question and informed State that it required no redactions,” the agency informed Susan Sachsman Grooms, staff director and general counsel for the panel’s Democrats, on October 17.

Meanwhile, over at Meet the Press, NBC’s longtime top diplomatic correspondent, Andrea Mitchell, was bashing another panel Republican, Mike Pompeo of Kansas, for charging that Clinton had “relied on Mr. Blumenthal for most of her intelligence” on Libya.

“That is factually not correct,” Mitchell told Pompeo.

“No, it is absolutely factually correct,” Pompeo responded.

Mitchell: “Relied on Mr. Blumenthal for most of her intelligence?... I cover the State Department. That is just factually not correct and I've been as tough on this issue as anyone.” The State Department has its own intelligence arm, and also receives classified reports from the CIA and Pentagon intelligence agencies.

Over at CBS’s Face the Nation, Gowdy wrestled with statements by two members of his own party—the House majority leader, Kevin McCarthy of California, and Representative Richard Hanna of New York—to the effect that that the panel had set out to weaken Clinton’s campaign for president and succeeded. Button it, he advised his colleagues.

“I have told my own Republican colleagues and friends: Shut up talking about things that you don’t know anything about,” Gowdy said. “And unless you’re on the committee, you have no idea what we have done, why we have done it and what new facts we have found.”