House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) stumbled his way through an interview with Fox News on Thursday night while trying to walk back a remark he made earlier this week about the political victories of the Benghazi committee.
McCarthy said on Tuesday night during an interview on Fox’s “Hannity” that the special House committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi terror attack had succeeded in hurting Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Democrats and Republicans alike hammered McCarthy after that, with some suggesting it could hurt his bid to succeed John Boehner (R-OH) as House speaker.
On Thursday night, Fox host Bret Baier asked McCarthy to clarify his statement. McCarthy seemed to breeze through the question, with what seemed like a canned response.
But it got rather awkward later in the interview, with McCarthy often speaking in fragments and stumbling over his answers.
Baier asked McCarthy whether he had made the Benghazi’s committee’s job more difficult.
“It was never my intention to ever imply that this committee was political. Because we all know it is not. And it has one sole purpose, let’s find the truth wherever the truth takes us,” McCarthy said. “And you know what? Sometimes truth comes out, and other manners, and let’s not let politics hold that back.”
Baier asked McCarthy if he had apologized to Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who is leading the Benghazi committee.
“I talked to Trey,” McCarthy said, “and I told him I regret that this has ever taken place. It’s never my intention — and Trey goes, ‘I know it’s not your intention because you know it’s not political.'”
Baier mentioned McCarthy’s campaign to become the next House speaker.
“Did this hurt you?” Baier asked.
“Look, my colleagues know me, we’ve been part of this,” McCarthy said. “I’ve talked to all of them. We’re going to be able to win this race.”
Baier pressed him on why it took him so long to attempt to clean up the mess over his remarks.
“I put a statement out yesterday, and I could have come out, I should have come out right afterwards. Never my intention. It wasn’t what I, in my mind, was saying out there,” he said. “I was saying some truth came out from this committee. You can you always improve.”
Then Baier asked: “The truth is this has been a bit of a setback?”
“It’s been a setback, yes,” McCarthy said. “Because I do not want to make that harm (sic) Benghazi committee in any way, because it’s not political.”
Baier ended the interview by thanking McCarthy for his time.