House Democrats still have to decide whether to play ball on the select committee to investigate Benghazi, as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi calls for equal representation between parties on the panel.
Democrats will definitely be voting against creating the committee this week, saying that it’s a highly political endeavor that is unnecessary given previous committee hearings on Benghazi. But with Pelosi calling for an equal ratio of Republicans and Democrats on the committee, she is giving her colleagues an out to not sit on the committee should there be uneven numbers of Republicans and Democrats — if it’s uneven, Democrats could argue that it’s unfair and therefore they shouldn’t participate at all.
“If this review is to be fair, it must be truly bipartisan. The panel should be equally divided between Democrats and Republicans as is done on the House Ethics Committee,” Pelosi said in a statement Tuesday. “It should require that witnesses are called and interviewed, subpoenas are issued, and information is shared on a bipartisan basis. Only then could it be fair.”
House lawmakers are making their way back to Washington today, and will likely discuss strategy informally during evening votes and during their conference meeting Wednesday morning. If Democrats don’t participate at all, Republicans will have a monopoly on the witnesses called and questions asked.
Some Democrats, such as Adam Schiff of California, who sits on the Intelligence Committee, have already called for boycotting the committee. “I don’t think it makes sense for us to give this select committee any more credibility than it deserves,” he told Fox News Sunday. “And frankly, I don’t think it deserves very much.”
A boycott wouldn’t be unprecedented; as recently as 2005, Pelosi and then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid both refused to appoint Democrats to a Republican-led select committee to investigate the Bush administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina.
On Monday, a top Democrat, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, wouldn’t commit one way or another on a boycott, saying that details on how the committee is organized will need to be seen first.
It’s unclear how the committee will be made up. But in reference to Pelosi’s statement, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner noted that in 2007, Pelosi oversaw the establishment of a select committee on global warming made up of nine Democrats and six Republicans.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., will be chairman of the Benghazi committee. He told The Greenville News that he hopes Democrats will participate. “I still believe that certain things, if done the right way, can transcend politics,” he said. “If I didn’t think [the select committee] could, I would not have accepted the challenge.”
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"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."