Chairman Gowdy’s Remarks Following Vote to Approve Report
After the committee voted 7-4 to make its proposed report final, Chairman Gowdy made the following remarks to reporters and answered questions:
GOWDY: That was unfortunately a lot like some of the meetings we’ve had, both public and private. The Democrats’ focus was on process: not a single substantive amendment offered, no challenges to the facts on any of the 800 pages in our report, no challenges to any of the new information that we found.
The most ironic part, I suppose, was – and I’m sure they’ll tell you they want everything released except what they don’t want released – they don’t want all the documents released, and they want the transcripts released piecemeal. And I’m not going to do it that way. It’s not done in other investigations I’m familiar with, it’s not fair to the public and it’s not fair to the participants.
There were no substantive amendments offered to our report and in terms of when the committee will end, by resolution we end-- the administration is in the process of reviewing the transcripts. I told all of you from day one I want all of the transcripts released. They have to redact them. So, classified information, even sometimes sensitive information, is not included. That is totally within the control of the administration. I asked Mr. Cummings again today, as I have asked him repeatedly, ‘because you have a better relationship with the administration than some of us do, will you help us? Help expedite the process.’ So as soon as I can release the transcripts, the documents, the emails, all the other things that undergird the report, I will do so.
I do not anticipate any more hearings and the only other interview that I am aware of or that is planned is Mr. [Stephen] Hedger. I moved Mr. Hedger at the request of the Department of Defense, but it is very important for me to ask him why he made what I believe to be misrepresentations in a letter to Congress.
So, I’ll say the same thing at the end that I said at the very beginning: it has been a privilege to investigate the service and ultimately the sacrifice of the four Americans who died, but also those who are in many regards still now nameless and faceless to the American public, who displayed incredible heroism and valor during that time period.
I want to thank the members who were with me, none of whom signed up for this in lieu of their other responsibilities, but in addition thereto. I think we all have a renewed sense of appreciation for those who serve both in uniform and out of uniform.
There were no amendments offered to correct any of the facts in our report, so, to the extent we came prepared to debate substance, there were no amendments related to substance.
REPORTER: So the report is final? … There’s not going to be any more amendments to the report? So, you’re going to wait until you file, until you get the transcripts released? Am I understanding that correctly?
GOWDY: Well, it’s not just transcripts, there are documents. If I tell you that an email existed between Witness A and Witness B, you shouldn’t have to take my word for it. You ought to be able to read it for yourself and you ought to be able to conclude, ‘I either agree with your analysis of that email or I have a different view.’ That has been my position from day one. You’re welcome to draw whatever conclusions you want to draw, but you can’t do it if you don’t have the documents. And I have resisted from day one and I will continue to resist the selective, episodic release of things that they think are favorable to them.
For instance, they are obsessed with Sidney Blumenthal. I’m obsessed with the people who actually survived the attack. I think the American people are more interested in hearing from the people who actually survived the attack and can give firsthand accounts than they are Sidney Blumenthal. But that’s the transcript they want out. And that’s fine, release it, but we’re going to release them all, and then the public can judge which ones they want to read and which ones they don’t.
REPORTER: Is there any interest, because I know the issue of perjury came up yesterday in the hearing with [FBI Director James] Comey. Is there any interest that this committee is going to expand into that type of investigation on whether or not she perjured herself in front of you?
GOWDY: With all due respect to madam U.S. Attorney, that’s our old job. That’s not our current job. We don’t investigate allegations of perjury. We don’t convene grand juries. We don’t prosecute people. What we can do, and what I think any committee, responsible committee, would do, is with all the transcripts – there are more than 100 witness transcripts – if a witness said something to a committee of congress and/or under oath, that does not, is not consistent with the truth, our committee like every other committee has an obligation to refer that to those who actually do investigate what you just cited. But we do not investigate crimes in Congress.
REPORTER: So are you guys referring that to the FBI?
GOWDY: Referring what?
REPORTERS: Secretary Clinton’s testimony. The issue of perjury.
GOWDY: She is one of 100 witnesses, and we are going to look, we have former federal prosecutors standing up here and we have former federal prosecutors on our staff. We have an obligation to do that with all the witness transcripts – hers and the other hundred-however-many too.
REPORTER: So is there a referral?
GOWDY: Not yet.
REPORTER: There will be?
GOWDY: I can’t tell you until I complete the review.
REPORTER: Is there any reason for the committee staff to, I mean, will the committee continue to have staff and have salaries and be spending money while you’re waiting for the declassification of the transcripts?
GOWDY: Well, the committee is authorized to remain in existence until the end of the calendar year. I don’t think staff or any members are desirous of that happening. By the same token, someone has to meet with the agencies. If there is a quarrel or disagreement over whether or not something should be classified, someone engages with the agency. But I’m just saying this Mary – that is 100 percent within the control of the administration. If it were up to me, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. We sent the transcripts as the interviews took place and asked them to review them. But they didn’t do that. So to the extent that all the work is piled up on the back end, you should go ask the CIA and the DOD and the State Department that question. We’ve been wanting these transcripts cleared and the documents cleared, I’d like to give them to you today. I think the documents are really interesting, which may be why the Democrats did not want them released.
REPORTER: Are there any changes made from the 800 pages you guys have amended?
GOWDY: All of the amendments were process amendments. Not a single amendment offered to a single factual assertion made in our report, which I find incredibly instructive. That they didn’t challenge the new information we found. They didn’t challenge the documents we found. They didn’t challenge the evacuation or new evidence on that. They didn’t challenge the advance notice. They didn’t challenge the fact that no DOD asset was headed towards Libya even when Ty [Woods] and Glen [Doherty] were killed. None of that was challenged. It was all about process.
REPORTER: Is this investigation done now? You have the transcripts, and all of that dotting of the T’s and crossing of the I’s? I mean…
GOWDY: Our committee’s work is done, if you’re asking whether or not the investigation into Benghazi is over, that’s a question the folks in your line of work are better able to answer than mine. I think any time a new question pops up, groups that are empowered to provide oversight should do that. Our committee will cease to exist in the very near future. You won’t.