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New Benghazi investigation spooks GOP leaders

New Benghazi investigation spooks GOP leaders

Last Wednesday, as the House was preparing for its new investigation into the Benghazi attacks, House intelligence committee chairman Mike Rogers gathered Republican members of his committee for a meeting. While the main purpose of the meeting was to discuss surveillance reforms the committee was about to pass, Rogers also warned his colleagues about the upcoming select committee to investigate Benghazi.

“He was saying this could be a rabbit hole,” one House member told The Daily Beast. “He was warning us that we should not let this investigation get into conspiracy theories.”

Contrary to the caricature of Republicans, as singularly obsessed for political reasons with Benghazi, the reality is quite different. There is deep unease within the Republican leadership that the select committee, which has yet to announce a schedule of hearings, could backfire, and badly. Investigate and find nothing new, and the committee looks like a bunch of tin-hatted obsessives. Investigate and uncover previously-hidden secrets, and it makes all of the other Republican led panels that dug into Benghazi seem like Keystone Kops.

Three Republican sources tell The Daily Beast that the chairmen of the House Intelligence, Armed Services, and Government Reform committees—Reps. Rogers, Buck McKeon, and Darrell Issa, respectively—all opposed the formation of a select committee on Benghazi. All three men have led their own investigations into the matter.

House Speaker John Boehner himself resisted calls to form the committee for nearly a year and a half. Rep. Frank Wolf, a Republican from Virginia, proposed a special select committee on Benghazi first in November 2012. Since then he worked to get a majority of Republicans to sign onto his plan.

But it was not until Judicial Watch in April uncovered a set of White House emails on Benghazi—emails that were not shared with Congress—that Boehner agreed to Wolf’s idea.

Boehner’s calculation was, in part, political, according to one House Republican aide. The Speaker was looking to mollify the Tea Party faction of his caucus who were upset with him about a range of issues, including the federal budget and immigration reform.

“There is a whole combination of factors here,” this aide said. “You have the email. But remember Boehner has also gotten a lot of resistance from House Republicans on immigration. He wanted to turn the page on this.” This aide said that Boehner’s view was that, “OK, I am giving you guys this committee, now it’s on you to make this work.”

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