Select Committee Conducting Retaliatory Interview After Proclaiming “Work is Done”
WASHINGTON—Despite proclaiming last week that “our committee’s work is done,” Chairman Trey Gowdy is conducting yet another interview today of a witness with no firsthand information about the attacks in Benghazi.
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs Stephen Hedger sent a letter in April documenting the Select Committee’s numerous unnecessary and wasteful requests to the Defense Department.
In response, Chairman Gowdy issued a unilateral subpoena—without any debate or vote by the Select Committee—summoning Mr. Hedger to appear for questioning.
Ranking Member Elijah Cummings issued the following statement:
“Contrary to claims that the Select Committee’s work is done, Republicans are forging ahead with one of the longest, least productive, and most partisan investigations in history—and the American taxpayers are still footing the bill. Republicans admit that this witness has no firsthand information at all about the attacks in Benghazi and that his testimony will in no way affect the final report they adopted last week. Instead, Republicans are conducting this interview in retaliation for the Defense Department having the audacity to object to their multiple, last-minute, and threatening demands. These actions by Republicans continue to undermine the integrity of the House of Representatives.”
The House Resolution that created the Select Committee allows it to continue operating until 30 days after its final report is filed. Although the Select Committee voted on its report last Friday, Chairman Gowdy is refusing to “file” it in order to allow the Select Committee to continue operating indefinitely with its unlimited budget.
In February—more than 650 days after the Select Committee was created—Chairman Gowdy requested interviews of several new witnesses, including “John from Iowa,” a drone sensor operator who called into Sean Hannity’s radio show in , and a low-ranking mechanic who made allegations on Facebook with an anti-Clinton hashtag that were previously debunked.
On April 29, 2016, Mr. Hedger wrote a letter to Chairman Gowdy explaining that these witnesses were unnecessary and expressing concern about the “recent crescendo” of new requests from Select Committee Republicans.
Mr. Hedger offered to meet with the Select Committee to discuss any issues regarding these witnesses, and the Defense Department continued efforts to locate and make these witnesses available for interviews.
Nevertheless, Chairman Gowdy issued a unilateral subpoena compelling Mr. Hedger to appear for a deposition.
Ranking Member Cummings called the subpoena “ridiculous” and noted that it served no purpose but to “retaliate against the Department of Defense for exposing the Select Committee’s abuses.”
Republicans subsequently postponed the deposition and then scheduled a transcribed interview with Mr. Hedger today.