Where Things Stand: McCarthy Was Scolded For Showing GOP’s Hand On Benghazi. Today’s GOP Shows Its Hand And No One Cares.

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UNITED STATES - MAY 10: Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, right, and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., attend the Senate Budget Committee hearing titled "Lessons Learned: Leadership Perspectives and Experience on the National Costs ... UNITED STATES - MAY 10: Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, right, and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., attend the Senate Budget Committee hearing titled "Lessons Learned: Leadership Perspectives and Experience on the National Costs of Climate Change," in Dirksen Building on Wednesday, May 10, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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Back in another lifetime, now-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy upset a bunch of his Republican colleagues when he just straight-up announced on Fox News that the Select Committee on Benghazi was making then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton look bad, and suggested that, hey, that was probably just the goal all along??? 🙃🙃

During an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity back in September 2015, McCarthy bragged that the panel’s work was harming Clinton’s standing in the polls. Clinton’s team seized on the remarks at the time as validation of what Democrats had long been saying — that House Republicans created the select committee as a platform for politically motivated attacks on Clinton and her presidential campaign, and that the events in Libya were simply a convenient opportunity.

“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?” McCarthy told Hannity as he hyped his own campaign to replace John Boehner as speaker of the House. “But we put together a Benghazi Special Committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping.”

“Why?” he continued. “Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not fought to make that happen.”

Republicans, including then-Speaker Boehner, immediately scrambled to distance themselves from McCarthy’s faux pas of an admission. From a Politico report at the time:

Already, Republicans are distancing themselves from McCarthy’s remarks, even as he’s leading the race to be the next speaker of the House, and defending the panel they formed to investigate the 2012 attack on the Libya consulate. Democrats, on the other hand, have demanded that the panel be dissolved, with some Clinton allies even calling for McCarthy to abandon his bid to become speaker.

“The House established the Select Committee on Benghazi to investigate what happened before, during, and after the terrorist attack in Benghazi, and to ensure that justice is finally served,” outgoing House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement Thursday morning as McCarthy’s words continued to draw Democratic fire. “This investigation has never been about former Secretary of State Clinton and never will be.”

Then-House Rules Committee Chair Pete Sessions (R-TX) scolded McCarthy for saying the quiet part out loud, telling Roll Call that he wouldn’t have said that if he were McCarthy.

“I would not have drawn that conclusion myself to say that publicly, because I don’t see that. I think the reason that Ms. Clinton is having problems is because she vacillates on providing information and telling the truth,” Sessions said. “I don’t agree with it.”

As other House Republicans jumped to then-panel Chair Trey Gowdy’s (R-SC) defense, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) went as far as to suggest it was a sign McCarthy couldn’t lead.

“I think [McCarthy] should restore this institution, and stating that committee hearings are being held for political gain does not restore this institution, it’s part of what’s wrong with this institution,” he said.

That brings us to the current political moment in which Republicans are largely … doing the same thing: using their platforms as elected officials go after their political enemies — whether its Jim Jordan’s and James Comer’s “weaponization” committee in the House or Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) using their prominent committee seats in the Senate to “”””just asking questions””” their way toward pushing Hunter Biden-related conspiracy theories into the news cycle.

But in 2023, unlike in 2015, it’s no longer a faux pas to describe these investigations as entirely aimed at scoring political points. After all, at this point, who could be so naive as to believe otherwise?

Last month Rep. James Comer (R-KY) — chairman of the House Oversight Committee — revealed that House Republicans had somehow lost their big smoking gun, a key informant in their supposed investigation into President Biden. This came out around the same time that Johnson openly admitted on Fox News that he and Grassley don’t have any actual evidence of some dark web of corruption involving the Biden family; Americans would just have to figure out how to “infer” what is going on.

“You have to infer what’s happening here… you’re not gonna get necessarily hard proof but there’s such a huge body of evidence,” Johnson said.

And today we have Grassley, on Fox News admitting the same thing:

McCarthy’s speakership bid was derailed back then, in part, because he said something everybody knew to be true. Eight years later it makes sense he’s head of the party that now thrives on shamelessness.

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