Democrats are in the minority on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee but have had enough of chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and his “wild and unsubstantiated political accusations” related to Benghazi, according to a letter released on Thursday.
The Oversight committee’s Democrats, led by ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), sent Issa the letter on Wednesday, urging him to halt his seventeen-month long investigation into Benghazi, as they’ve devolved into nothing but partisan attacks. Instead, the letter pleads with Issa to “begin focusing instead on conducting responsible oversight to implement constructive reforms to protect our diplomatic corps overseas.”
“To date, the Committee’s investigation has been characterized by wild and unsubstantiated political accusations that turn out to be completely inaccurate after further investigation,” the letter continues. “We believe it is time to end these seemingly endless and unsubstantiated political attacks and direct the Committee’s efforts towards concrete and lasting reforms.”
Not content to merely call out Issa’s political maneuvering, which even he has admitted in the past has borne little fruit, the letter goes on to cite several instances of Issa appearing in the national press to make claims that were later debunked. Specifically, the Democrats lean heavily on the Washington Post’s Fact Checker and their system of doling out “Pinocchios” based on the severity of just how false a politician’s statements are. In one instance, the Post awarded Issa its highest rating of four Pinocchios for claiming — contrary to a GOP-written report — that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a rumored “stand-down order” to American forces the night of the Benghazi attack. “To date, you have issued no apology to former Secretary Clinton or former Secretary Panetta for making these unsubstantiated accusations,” the letter reads.
The letter also chides Issa for claiming last April that Clinton was lying during a hearing. “The Secretary of State was just wrong. She said she did not participate in this, and yet only a few months before the attack, she outright denied security, in her signature, in a cable, April 2012,” Issa told Fox News at the time. As one of his own hearings would later highlight, however, the Secretary’s signature is placed on all outgoing messages from the State Department — whether they’ve viewed them or not. The Democrats’ letter points out that this claim had placed Issa on the Fact Checker’s list of the top ten biggest falsehoods of 2013.
“Continuing this reckless pattern of launching wholly unfounded accusations on national television– and racking up more and more Pinocchios in the process — is undermining the credibility of our Committee and the seriousness of our work,” the letter continues. “Your approach repeatedly has called into question the integrity of our military and diplomatic personnel who are charged with executing our nation’s missions and policies overseas.” Pointing to the independent Accountability Review Board report released from the State Department in 2012, the letter concludes that it is “time for the Committee to turn to constructive efforts to ensure that the Board’s recommendations are fully implemented in order to protect our diplomatic corps overseas.”
The letter to Issa was sent just shortly after a letter from the Pentagon to the ranking member of the House Armed Services committee on the various ongoing Benghazi investigations in Congress made its way into the press. According to the Department of Defense, those six investigations — including Issa’s — have racked up a bill worth “millions of dollars” among the various federal agencies involved in trying to provide the requested interviews, documents, and other items to the Hill. It remains to be seen whether the GOP will finally end their appeal to the fringes of the conservative base that make up the only ones outside of Congress still intrigued by the idea of a coverup over Benghazi.