All-Star Panel: Will administration cooperate with new House Benghazi probe?

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," May 5, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF, D - CA:  I don't think it make sense really for Democrats to participate.  I think it's just a tremendous red herring and a waste of taxpayer resources.  So I hope the speaker will reconsider, but it looks like he has bowed again to those from the farthest right of his conference. 

REP. PETE KING, R - N.Y.:  If the Democrats boycott this committee, refuse to take part, the American people are going to conclude, and I think quite rightly, that they feel they have something to hide.  And for them to refuse to take part of it to me would be terribly arrogant.  It would be showing that they are not taking this issue seriously.  And mostly it's going to show that they are afraid to confront the issues when the public is watching. 


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR:  Well, today, House Speaker John Boehner announced that South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy was his choice to head up this Benghazi select committee.  Gowdy put out a statement, saying, quote, "I applaud Speaker Boehner for his decision to establish a select committee and I'm honored to serve as chairman.  Twenty months after the Benghazi attacks there remain unresolved questions about why the security was inadequate, our response during the siege itself, and our government's interaction with the public after the attack.  All of those lines of inquiry are legitimate and should be apolitical." 

Let's bring in our panel tonight, syndicated columnist George Will, Juan Williams, columnist with The Hill, and Jonah Goldberg, at-large editor of National Review online.  OK, George, what are the chances Democrats play ball on this? 

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST:  I think if they are clear thinking, they won't participate.  I don't see what's in it for them, and it will reduce the committee to being apparently a partisan enterprise.  It will give the media an excuse not to cover it, and again they will have an advantage of being able to say to the public we don't need a ninth committee hearing on this.  We've had eight already.  And this is really not at the top of the list of Americans' concerns. 

That said, Trey Gowdy cannot be called a careerist in this case.  He doesn't like his career.  He wants to go back to Spartanburg and play golf and raise his two children.  He's always says I'm a prosecutor, not a politician, which is why he's well cast in this role.  It's certainly not to energized the Republican base.  It's energized already by the Affordable Care Act and other matters. 

So it seems to me he does have a legitimate institutional argument, which is congressional oversight depends on access to documents and documents are being hidden here.  That said, I would remind my Republican friends of one thing, 1998.  Every disaster in politics is at some point or other a disaster of disproportion, and the Republicans in 1998 got the bit in their teeth, ran on impeachment of Bill Clinton, and he managed to gain seats in the off year election in his second term, really hard to do. 

BAIER:  Juan? 

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL:  The problem here is not Trey Gowdy, who is a fine prosecutor, and I think,-- as George just suggested, has not displayed a sort of partisan bend in the middle of all this. The problem here is that there has been an unlimited number of investigations. 
There's been a Senate Intelligence Committee report that I believe came out just earlier this year.  There have been House committee investigations. 
There's been an independent investigation, Admiral Mullen and Ambassador Pickering. 

BAIER:  Sure.  But on those things, Juan, the ARB didn't talk to Secretary Clinton.  The e-mail just came out last week after a subpoena from Congress a year ago.  So there have been a lot of investigations, but there's also some new developments. 

WILLIAMS:  I can't think of one real pertinent fact that's been revealed in these new documents.  Hillary Clinton testified, if you'll recall, before the committee.  So everybody has had a shot at Hillary Clinton. 

BAIER:  Besides Admiral Mullen and Ambassador Pickering. 

WILLIAMS:  They said they didn't see the need to interview Secretary Clinton. 

BAIER:  Isn't that a little strange? 

WILLIAMS:  No.  That was their decision.  Unless you want to impugn Pickering and Mullen –


BAIER: I'm not impugning anybody. I'm asking a question.

WILLIAMS: -- no, it did not seem strange to me.  They had access to the State Department and they made a decision about how they wanted to conduct their investigation.  To now come back and say, oh well that is Hillary Clinton's fault, I think that leads to the heart of this matter, which is this is a political issue, a political issue intended to try to derail Hillary Clinton's -- what looks like -- at this point she's in the lead, ahead of Jeb Bush, ahead of anybody on the Republican side, and people want to derail that. 

BAIER: Jonah?

JONAH GOLDBERG, AT LARGE EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE:  It's very rare, I don't I've ever said this sentence before, but let me disagree with George Will a little bit on this.  I think that the predicate of your assumption, that this is a bad move for Democrats to do and it will make the thing look like a partisan circus, is predicated on the idea that there will be no new information to come out of this.  New information, unknown unknowns, could change all of these things.

And at the very least, getting some simple questions answered -- you are absolutely right, there has been an unlimited number of investigations. There's been a very limited number of answers from the White House. 

My colleague at the American Enterprise Institute has a column today in the Washington Post where he says, look, if you think this select committee is a circus and is not worth doing, a very simple way to avoid all this, release the president's -- presidential daily brief that he gets from the CIA and the intelligence community.  It will say whether or not they valued the video as a high priority, low priority, any confidence all that kind of stuff.  It will mitigate the need for a lot of the select committee to talk about the idea where the video came from.  And release the president's schedule while you are at it.  If they have got nothing to hide and if this is all just sort of just spinning wheels, why haven't they released a lot of this information that would get the Republicans to call off the dogs? 

WILL:  I think the most interesting information that's apt to come out about this is apt to come about what the military could or could not have been have done that night, which would be educational for the American people to understand that the reach of our military is not infinite and instantaneous.  That will be an educational experience.

By all means go ahead, but remember the press is not interested in this as it was in Iran-Contra and as it was in Watergate, so that's going to change the entire context of this investigation. 

BAIER:  Next up, Common Core. 

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