Receiving another blow from within the party, the Republican-led investigative House committee on Benghazi is quickly losing credibility.
Rep. Richard Hanna, a Republican congressman from New York, said on a radio show Wednesday the Benghazi probe, under the guise of nonpartisan review, had always intended to target former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"This may not be politically correct, but I think that there was a big part of this investigation that was designed to go after people, an individual, Hillary Clinton,” Hanna tells radio host Bill Keeler. “And I think there's also a lot of it that’s important that we needed to get to the bottom of this. But this has been the longest investigation, longer than Watergate.”
Hanna’s declaration comes at the heels of Maj. Bradley Podliska’s similar accusation last week. Having been fired by the House Select Committee on Benghazi, Podliska, a self-described Republican, says he was pressured into engaging in partisan bullying against Clinton.
A bigger controversy, however, was House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s comment on Clinton’s dwindling poll numbers in relation to the Benghazi committee’s handiwork. The gaffe served to reaffirm what Democrats had been saying all along – that the House Benghazi investigation is more interested in bringing down the Democratic presidential hopeful than actually looking into the 2012 attacks that killed four people, including US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, at the American consulate in Benghazi.
“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee. A select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping,” McCarthy said on Fox News last month.
Some believe McCarthy’s slip-up compromised the integrity of the GOP and caused him his shot at becoming the next Speaker of the House to replace John Boehner. McCarthy withdrew from the race a week ago.
"Kevin McCarthy basically blew himself up with that comment over the Benghazi committee, which, sometimes the biggest sin you can commit in DC is to tell the truth," Hanna says. "You’d like to expect more from a committee that’s spent millions of dollars and tons of time."
These remarks set the tone for Clinton’s testimony before the panel next week. It will be the first time she appears before the House Select Committee. Emphasizing the diminishing legitimacy of committee chair Trey Gowdy, Clinton’s campaign says their official meeting will be pointless.
“Hillary Clinton will still attend next week’s hearing, but at this point, Trey Gowdy’s inquiry has zero credibility left,” Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon says in a statement Wednesday responding to Hanna’s comments on Benghazi panel.
Congress has conducted a number of investigations into the Benghazi incident. This latest committee was commissioned in May of 2014, a year after the House and Senate Foreign Affairs Committees had already found Clinton completely innocent of any wrongdoing or acts of terrorism. In fact, no government official was charged. Since 2012, there have been 10 congressional committees that participated in Benghazi investigations.
So far, the House Select Committee has spent $4.6 million on the investigation, which Democrats consider an excessive continuation of what they perceive as a wild goose chase in the first place.
[Editor's note: The original version of this story incorrectly compared the length of the Benghazi investigation to that of other congressional committee investigations.]