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
Add to Briefcase
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.”

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