Issa Throws a Benghazi Party, But Democrats Aren’t Invited

The GOP’s chief investigator quietly planned a trip to the Libyan city, but allegedly hid it from Democrats.

Rep. Darrell Issa interviewed after Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 25, 2011.
National Journal
Alex Seitz-Wald
See more stories about...
Alex Seitz-Wald
Sept. 20, 2013, 12:40 p.m.

House Over­sight Com­mit­tee Chair­man Dar­rell Issa quietly made plans to travel to Benghazi, Libya, this week­end, but he didn’t in­vite Demo­crats along for the trip, and the Dems are none too happy about it.

The trip was re­vealed by Rep. Eli­jah Cum­mings, the rank­ing Demo­crat on the Over­sight Com­mit­tee, who said he found out about the jour­ney only via a copy of the it­in­er­ary his staff ob­tained Fri­day. Cum­mings is call­ing on Issa to post­pone the trip so Demo­crats can come along.

“I am writ­ing to re­quest that you im­me­di­ately post­pone your up­com­ing del­eg­a­tion to Libya and sev­er­al oth­er coun­tries un­til you come in­to com­pli­ance with your own com­mit­tee dir­ect­ives, stop your par­tis­an ef­forts to de­lib­er­ately ex­clude Demo­crats from this trip, and provide ad­equate no­tice to al­low Demo­crat­ic mem­bers to join this del­eg­a­tion at a later date,” he wrote in a let­ter to the Cali­for­nia Re­pub­lic­an on Fri­day.

Issa’s of­fice was not im­me­di­ately avail­able for com­ment.

Cum­mings cited a 2011 memo Issa wrote upon be­com­ing chair­man, which stated, “All del­eg­a­tions must be bi­par­tis­an.” Cum­mings also faul­ted Issa for list­ing the pur­pose of his trip on the it­in­er­ary as “TBD,” while the memo said every coun­try vis­it must have a spe­cif­ic pur­pose.

Pre­sum­ably, the trip is part of the Re­pub­lic­an-led in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to last year’s ter­ror­ist at­tacks on the U.S. dip­lo­mat­ic post in the Liby­an city. Demo­crats charge that the in­vest­ig­a­tion has been be­set by par­tis­an­ship since the be­gin­ning, and that it long ago lost any re­semb­lance to an im­par­tial in­vest­ig­a­tion.

Yes­ter­day, Issa lam­basted Demo­crats for leav­ing a hear­ing on the at­tack be­fore fam­ily mem­bers of those killed could testi­fy. But as Dave Wei­gel noted, most of the Re­pub­lic­ans had left as well. House Re­pub­lic­ans, mean­while, took to their blog today to as­sert that “Benghazi was a cov­er-up.”

UP­DATE (4:55 p.m.): At a hear­ing Thursday, Issa raised the pos­sib­il­ity of a Benghazi trip to Demo­crat­ic Reps. Tammy Duck­worth, Ill. and Mark Po­can, Wis. without men­tion­ing that he already had one in the works: 

Issa: “If you’re avail­able along with Miss Duck­worth, I would love to have you go on the next trip to the re­gion and we can be­gin look­ing at what re­com­mend­a­tions we could help with.”

Po­can: “I think that’s a great sug­ges­tion. I’d love to do that.”

What We're Following See More »
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
3 days ago

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
3 days ago

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
3 days ago

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
3 days ago

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Carly Fiorina Will Not Be Allowed to Debate on Saturday
2 days ago

ABC News has announced the criteria for Saturday’s Republican debate, and that means Carly Fiorina won’t be a part of it. The network is demanding candidates have “a top-three finish in Iowa, a top-six standing in an average of recent New Hampshire polls or a top-six placement in national polls in order for candidates to qualify.” And there will be no “happy hour” undercard debate this time. “So that means no Fiorina vs. Jim Gilmore showdown earlier in the evening for the most ardent of campaign 2016 junkies.