OTR Interviews

Gowdy: The murder of 4 Americans should transcend politics in Benghazi investigation

Newly-named chair of Congressional select committee on Benghazi says he wants to see 'every solitary, single document' related to the deadly terror attack


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

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Up first, the just-hours-ago - named chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Benghazi, Representative Trey Gowdy joins us.

Good evening, soon-to-be-Mr. Chairman. Nice to see you.

REP. TREY GOWDY, R-S.C.: Yes, ma'am. How are you?



VAN SUSTEREN: I'm very well.

The Democrats are going to say this is partisan, this is a witch hunt. How are you going to convince the American people that this is going to be a fair hearing, a fair investigation?

GOWDY: Well, Greta, your viewers would still have the same unanswered questions as we have: Why our security profile was so low on the anniversary 9/11. Why we didn't have any assets moving during the siege itself and why the government can't be trusted to answer your questions completely and accurately in the aftermath. The jury that I'm interested in are reasonable-minded, fair-minded people, like your viewers. Washington is its own ecosystem. They wouldn't like it even if I cured malaria tonight. I mean, because I'm a Republican. So, of course, they are going to be critical.

That's not the jury. Although I would tell Adam and some of my other colleagues to 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. That's not too much to ask, is it?

VAN SUSTEREN: You refer to Adam, I take it you mean Congressman Adam Schiff, and he has said that he urges Democrats to boycott and not participate on the committee. You say what to him?

GOWDY: I would say this. Greta, I like Adam. I think Adam is really smart. He was hired by the Bush administration to work at the U.S. attorney's office in California. I was hired by the Clinton administration to work in the U.S. attorney's office in South Carolina. That's what I love about the justice system. She wears a blindfold for a reason. She doesn't -- (AUDIO INTERRUPTED) -- in finding the truth and your political ideation shouldn't matter at all. So what I would say to Adam is, look, Republicans hired you and gave you your job in California. The Democrats gave me a job back in the 1990s. At least let the process have a chance to work before you declare it null and void.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, there have been a number of hearings though. What would make this different, a Select Committee? There's been 10, 12, 13 hearings by different committees. Why is this different?

GOWDY: It's been so fragmented, Greta, as you know. I can't even attend the Intel Committee hearings. I have no idea what they have uncovered. Just like they don't come to the OGR, the Oversight Committee. We need a list of the witnesses that have been talked to and which ones are left to be talked to. We need a list of the documents. And by the way, I'm not interested in redacted documents or an over classification. I want the documents. So I want all of the evidence. And then people can draw different conclusions from those facts in evidence. But you can't draw conclusions if you don't have all the facts. And 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.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. You mentioned the classified documents. I have had a beef with Washington for whoever long I have been here. Any time anyone wants to hide anything, in any administration, Republican or Democrat, the trick is to classify it. Are you willing to go through the documents? And do you have the power and the authority to declassify any documents you think were over classified that shouldn't be kept secret from the American people?

GOWDY: Speaker Boehner is going to give us whatever power we need to get to the bottom of it. Jason Chaffetz was on another show today showing the discrepancy between two documents that were produced. Ostensibly, the same document, but this had reactions that that one did not have in it. And that's inexcusable when you live in a free and open society where you are supposed to have access to the truth and the facts. So the speaker is going to give us the tools that we need to be able to answer everyone's questions when the Select Committee has completed its work.

VAN SUSTEREN: You told me right here that you have evidence that not only are they, meaning the Obama administration, hiding it but there is an intent to hide it. "I can't disclose that evidence yet, but I have evidence that there is systemic intention to withhold certain documents from Congress." Will we see those documents?

GOWDY: Yeah. Well, you know, I can't prove to you what I don't know. I don't know whether the documents have been destroyed. I know this, that there are witnesses that have the courage to come forward and share with us that there was a systematic effort to keep certain documents -- take the ARB, for instance. Does anyone really believe the ARB had access to all of the documents and all of the witnesses? I don't know anyone who believes that. So, necessarily, that undercuts whatever findings they may have found.

I'm telling you this: If a document exists, regardless of classification, we need to have access to it. That does not necessarily mean that it will be public. But, as you noted, there is an over classification to protect people's reputations and careers. And that is not a legitimate reason to classify a document, just because you are worried that it may hurt feelings or impact your career.

VAN SUSTEREN: You mentioned the ARB. That was the State Department board that looked at Benghazi. And according to the information I have is they looked at an after-action report by the military. Actually, they didn't look at it. A summary was read to them. They didn't see -- they didn't read the whole thing. They didn't read it themselves. Are you going to be able to get to that after-action report by the military so we can find out what the military was saying within hours and days of September 11th, 2012?

GOWDY: Yes, ma'am. I'm not going to rely on any summaries. Greta, you are a very good lawyer. There is a reason you can't just summarize evidence in front of the jury. The jury has a right to hear the question. They can judge the credibility of the witness. The credibility can be impeached. I'm not interested in summaries. I'm not interested in synopses. I'm interested in access to the document and the witness, and I will decide whether or not I think the appropriate questions were asked in the past.

With respect to the ARB, the secretary of state was never interviewed by the ARB. So how can I tell your viewers whether or not she was aware that the facility had been attacked before in Benghazi or that the British ambassador had been attacked? How can I answer that question if the ARB never saw fit to even interview the secretary of state?

VAN SUSTEREN: There is another document that was tweeted today or a series of documents. The PDBs, the presidential daily briefings for September 11th, 12, 13th, 14th -- I don't know what days -- but some precedent for the Bush administration releasing. Those are the briefings from the CIA to the president. That would tell us what the intelligence community from the CIA thought happened on the 10th or on the 11th, 12th, and 13th. Will you seek to see those and will you urge a disclosure of those to the people?

GOWDY: I want to see every single solitary relevant material document. In fact, I want it see everything for which there can be any argument that it is relevant, and then we can judge whether or not it's material. For all I know, the Intel Committee has already seen the document you referenced, which is another reason the speaker did what he did, because we have been fragmented, and what Intel knows, Oversight and Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security would not know.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have an end point? Because one of the things that people always worry about in investigations that they take on a life of their own and we'll be doing this for the next 100 years. Do you have at least some sort of mission that this will be finished by a particular date? I guess no matter what everyone's concern will be before midterms, after midterms, because that will have a political implication, people will say. Do you have sort of in your mind when you want to have this finished?

GOWDY: I think the resolution that the House is going to take up is going to have a date in it. That date has not been shared with me, Greta. But you also know that if there is a systematic intent to withhold -- (AUDIO INTERRUPTED). You know, the State Department said just this week that they are in the process of complying with subpoenas. Well, it's been 20 months. How long does it take to comply with the document request? There is no judge in America that would give you 20 months to comply with a subpoena. So, part of the answer to your question depends upon how forthcoming and how willing this administration is to provide access to the witnesses and the documents.

But with respect to politics, Greta, I would just say this: There are certain things in our culture that have to transcend politics. And I don't mean to sound naive, but the murder of four fellow Americans and an attack on a facility that is emblematic of our country should transcend politics. And I know that our fellow citizens can handle the truth, but only if they get access to it. They can draw their own conclusions about politics, who is at fault, who is not at fault? But they can't do it if they don't have access to all the documents and all the witnesses.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you, sir.

And, of course, there are a few technical glitches with the studio. I don't know if you know it. But we do hope you will come back again anyway. Thank you, sir.

GOWDY: Yes, ma'am. Thank you.