CONGRESSMAN TREY GOWDY DISCUSSING BENGHAZI AND HILLARY EMAIL
Gowdy to colleagues, shut up talking about things that you don’t know anything about!
I want to talk to you about some people from your own party who have talked about this committee. You’re familiar with their remarks. But House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has suggested that this committee has driven down Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers. Richard Hanna, a Republican congressman from New York, said explicitly that this was a political investigation. A former investigator on your team has said that this was a politically motivated investigation.
Why would all these people say that? REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I guess because they don’t have any idea what the facts are, John.
If you look at the facts, we have done 50 witnesses, one of whom you could argue was exclusively related to her e-mail, and that was shortest interview we have done. We have 50,000 new documents. Less than 5 percent have anything to do with Secretary Clinton.
She’s an important witness, but she is one witness. And by the time we’re through, John, we will have interviewed 70 witnesses. So, she’s one out of 70. I get that she gets more attention than the other 69. But, frankly, if you ask me, the eyewitnesses on the ground that night in Benghazi are more important to me, as a former prosecutor, than the former secretary of state.
DICKERSON: As a former prosecutor, if you looked at the evidence from Republicans in your own party who said this is a political committee, wouldn’t that be enough to least start an investigation into whether this is politically motivated?
It’s a pretty big body of evidence.
GOWDY: Well, actually, there’s no evidence. There are three people who don’t have any idea what they’re talking about. Two of my colleagues, the two Republican members of the conference, have never asked for an update on our committee.
They couldn’t name three witnesses we talked to. They couldn’t tell you a single document production that we have received. And the former staffer left in June. So, he has no idea what we have done since June. And his allegation about Secretary Clinton, he never said until he sat down with somebody in your profession last Friday.
So, these three wouldn’t even be called as a witness in my former job, because they have no firsthand knowledge.
DICKERSON: Let me ask you. You told “The New York Times” that you had asked Speaker Boehner to allow another committee to focus on the Clinton e-mails because you worried that it would distract from the work of your committee. Have your fears been realized?
GOWDY: Well, I don’t know.
Other people are going to have to make that decision. I will just tell you this, John. When Speaker Boehner called me, he never mentioned Secretary Clinton’s name, not once. And my position has always been the same. Four dead Americans is more than enough work for me. She’s a witness. She was the secretary of state. You have to talk to her.
But we have already talked to 50 people not named Clinton. We’re going to talk to another couple of dozen not named Clinton. So, I understand that there’s more attention associated with her, but, from my perspective, I am much more interested in Chris Stevens’ e-mails, which we just received, than I am her e-mails, which we just received. DICKERSON: Speaking of the politicization of this, Carly Fiorina, running for president, rendered her view on what these hearings are about — or what this hearing is about this week.
She said, “I wish, for once, Mrs. Clinton would be prepared to stand to be held accountable for the murder of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.”
What do you make of that comment, and is that what Thursday is about?
GOWDY: No, that is not what Thursday is about.
Thursday is about the three tranches of Benghazi, what happened before, during and after. And, frankly, in Secretary Clinton’s defense, she’s going to have lot more information about the before than she is the during and the after. So, I get that there’s a presidential campaign going on.
I have told my own Republican colleagues and friends, shut up talking about things that you don’t know anything about. And unless you’re on the committee, you have no idea what we have done, why we have done it and what new facts we have found.
We have found new facts, John, that have absolutely nothing to do with her. I get the people don’t want to talk about that, but the seven members of my committee are much more focused on the four dead Americans than we are anyone’s presidential aspirations.
DICKERSON: Tell us about the new facts. One of the charges against your committee is there have been seven hearings — seven investigations in Congress already. Why have another one. What new facts have you got that rebuts that charge?
GOWDY: You know, John, I do hear that there have been seven, which makes me smile because I wonder, how did they miss Ambassador Stevens’ e-mails? None of the seven previous committees bothered to access the e-mails of our ambassador.
So, if you want a window into Libya and what was happening in the weeks and months before these four were killed, why would you not look at the ambassador’s e-mails? He was a prolific e-mailer. I will give you a one-week time period in June. He’s just been put in place as the ambassador, just accepted, on June the 7th. And he is already asking for more security. He knows that there’s an uptick in violence and he’s asking for more security.
On almost exactly that day, John, he is asked to read and respond to an e-mail from Sidney Blumenthal, who knows nothing about Libya. So, he’s asking for security. And Jake Sullivan in Washington is asking our ambassador the day after our facility was attacked with an IED to read and respond to an e-mail from Sidney Blumenthal.
Our ambassador is also asked for public messaging advice on the violence in Libya. Victoria Nuland e-mails him and says, we need help with your public messaging advice. He needed help with security, John. He didn’t need help with P.R. And he was asking for more security.
And on one occasion, he even joked in an e-mail, maybe we should ask another government to pay for our security upgrades because our government isn’t willing to do it. You want to know what happened in Libya, you got to look at his e-mails.
DICKERSON: And so what do those two points go to, that nobody was listening to Ambassador Stevens?
GOWDY: The total disconnect between what was happening in Libya with the escalation in violence, that we were a soft target, that there was an increase in anti-Western sentiment, that we were facing an uptick in violence while Washington is asking him to read and react to a Sidney Blumenthal e-mail, and help on how to message the violence. He needed help on how to deal with it.
DICKERSON: Any new information about whether there could have been a chance to rescue on that night?
GOWDY: Yes, sir.
There’s more information on our military preparedness and our inability/ability to respond. Some of that information, I’m not able to give you publicly. I would just tell you this. We have new information all three tranches of Libya that have nothing to do with this — with Secretary Clinton.
DICKERSON: What do you want to know from Secretary Clinton then when she shows up?
GOWDY: What I want to know is, while violence was going up in Libya, why was our security profile going down? It wasn’t even staying the same. It was going down.
And in the past, John, she has said, well, I had people and processes in place to handle that. Well, you also have people and processes in place to handle drivel that is produced by a guy named Sidney Blumenthal. But that made it to your inbox.
I want to know why certain things made it to your inbox, Madam Secretary, but the plaintiff pleadings of our own ambassador that you put in place for more security never bothered to make it to your inbox. I think that’s a fair question.
DICKERSON: Bernie Sanders this week made some headlines in the Democratic debate when he said about Hillary Clinton’s e-mails — he said — and I’m paraphrasing — that the country doesn’t care about her damn e-mails.
What’s your reaction to that?
GOWDY: I care about her e-mails only to the extent that they relate to Libya and Benghazi. There are other folks who may have equities in her e-mails and there may be other entities who are evaluating her e-mails. But my interest in them is solely making sure that I get everything I’m entitled to, so I can do my job. The rest of the it, classification, Clinton Foundation, you name it, I have zero interest in, which is why you haven’t seen me send a subpoena related to it or interview a single person, other than Bryan Pagliano, because I need to know that the record is complete.
DICKERSON: Last question, 20 seconds. Mr. Chairman, do you have everything that you need now from Hillary Clinton?
GOWDY: No, sir. We don’t have all the e-mails. And the State Department will concede that.
But at a certain point, you have to go ahead and call the witness. So, no, we’re still missing large tranches of information from the executive branch and from this administration.
DICKERSON: All right.
GOWDY: But it’s been a year-and-a-half, and I need to go ahead and call her.
DICKERSON: All right, Chairman Gowdy, thanks so much.
GOWDY: Thank you, John.