Foreign Affairs

Pelosi opens door to Democrats on Benghazi committee

April 1, 2014: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks to reporters outside the West Wing of the White House.

April 1, 2014: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks to reporters outside the West Wing of the White House.  (AP)

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi rebuffed calls from her party for Democrats to boycott a newly announced Benghazi investigation, saying Tuesday that the so-called select committee should have bipartisan members. 

"If this review is to be fair, it must be truly bipartisan," Pelosi said in a written statement. 

She went a step further, calling for the committee to be "equally divided between Democrats and Republicans as is done on the House Ethics Committee." 

It's unclear whether Republican leaders would agree to that request. Republicans pointed out that despite Pelosi's call for an equally divided panel, the breakdown of a prior select committee on climate change, engineered by the California Democrat, included nine Democrats and six Republicans. 

Details of the proposed Benghazi committee have not yet been released, except for Monday's decision to name Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., as chairman. A formal vote to establish the investigative committee is expected by the end of the week. 

On Sunday, Democratic California Rep. Adam Schiff called for fellow Democrats to sit out the investigation. 

"I think it's a colossal waste of time," Schiff told "Fox News Sunday." "I don't think it makes sense, really, for Democrats to participate." 

Pelosi reiterated complaints from others in her party that there have already been several investigations, including "four partisan reviews" in the House. 

But she signaled she does want members of her party on the panel. "It should require that witnesses are called and interviewed, subpoenas are issued, and information is shared on a bipartisan basis. Only then could it be fair," she said. 

Republican leaders say the select committee, something long called for by rank-and-file members, is now necessary after emails surfaced last week showing additional White House involvement in shaping the public explanation of the Benghazi attacks. One email stressed the role of an anti-Islam video, though the White House claims this was in reference to other protests in the region. 

Gowdy told Fox News on Monday that he is going to examine "every single solitary, relevant" document on Benghazi so the truth about the attacks can be determined once and for all. 

Gowdy, R-S.C., said on "On the Record" he is going to examine any and all documents relating to the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate, even those which may end up not even being relevant. 

"You can't draw conclusions if you don't have all the facts," Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, said. "What this committee is going to do is once and for all lay out all the facts and then your jury can draw whatever inferences and conclusions they want to." 

Gowdy also responded to criticism of the committee by House Democrats including Schiff. Gowdy said the committee's detractors need to give it a chance to prove its usefulness before declaring it pointless. 

"At least let us have a hearing before you judge it. I mean at least let the committee be constituted and the rules be adopted before you declare it to be a political exercise," he said.