Speaker John Boehner said Friday he will ask the House to vote on the creation of a special committee to "elevate" to a new level the congressional investigation into the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, has already issued a subpoena for Secretary of State John Kerry to appear before his committee on May 21 to answer questions about the administration's handling of the attacks.
Boehner's move is another sign that Republicans intend to continue scrutinizing the 2012 attack in Libya and question the actions of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others through this November's election, if not through 2016.
Specifically, Republicans are pegging their stepped-up actions to email evidence they say proves that the White House pushed misleading information.
"In the days after four Americans were killed by terrorists, President Obama's advisers orchestrated a campaign to deceive their fellow Americans as to what occurred, and we deserve to know why," Boehner said in a statement.
"Unfortunately, the Obama administration's continued obstruction has made clear that it is time for a House select committee to force the administration to end its stonewalling and come clean to congressional investigators, an inquiring media, and the American public," he said. "It's clear that questions remain, and the administration still does not respect the authority of Congress to provide proper oversight. This dismissiveness and evasion requires us to elevate the investigation to a new level."
Republicans are focusing on a newly released email dated Sept. 14, 2012 to then-United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice laying out what she should say when she appeared on TV after the attack. The email, obtained by the conservative group Judicial Watch, was written by White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes.
Republicans say the email bolsters their claims that the administration was trying to sidestep blame for the incident by depicting the attack as triggered by a video that insulted Islam. But White House press secretary Jay Carney has refuted that, saying the email was about the protests taking place across the Middle East at the time, not Benghazi specifically. Carney also accused Republicans of continuing an effort to politicize the attack.
"What we have seen since hours after the attack beginning with a statement by the Republican nominee for president, is an attempt by Republicans to politicize a tragedy and that continues today, and yesterday," Carney told reporters during a briefing on Thursday.
A spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Friday that she had yet to be contacted by Boehner or the Republican leadership concerning a proposal to set up a select committee.
In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid said Boehner's announcement shows that Republicans care more about "defending billionaires like the Koch brothers and trying to rekindle debunked right-wing conspiracy theories than raising the minimum wage or ensuring women receive equal pay for equal work."
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