Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, criticized his Republican colleagues for using the panel to attempt to “derail” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, characterizing the committee as a “fishing expedition.”
Clinton, who was secretary of state during the 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, faced hours of questioning Thursday from the committee, which Democrats have accused of being a blatantly political endeavor. Cummings continued with that line of criticism during his opening remarks, criticizing Republicans for using the panel and Thursday’s hearing to hurt Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid.
“Clearly, it is possible to conduct a serious, bipartisan investigation,” Cummings said. “What is impossible is for any reasonable person to continue denying that Republicans are squandering millions of taxpayer dollars on this abusive effort to derail Secretary Clinton’s presidential campaign.”
He continued: “It is time now, for the Republicans to end this taxpayer-funded fishing expedition. We need to come together and shift from politics to policy. That’s what the American people want, shifting from politics to policy.”
Democrats, who have long challenged the legitimacy of the Benghazi committee, were given fuel when House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) praised the committee for hurting Clinton’s presidential campaign. While McCarthy apologized for his remarks, Clinton’s camp seized on the moment and included it in a campaign ad.
Earlier this week, top Senate Democrats called on the committee to disband, and asked that the GOP refund all taxpayer funds used to cover the panel’s costs.
Cummings has also called for the committee to be shut down, accusing the panel of promoting “wild Republican conspiracy theories” about Clinton.
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