Rep. McCarthy walks back Benghazi Committee comments

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the odds-on favorite to replace John Boehner as speaker, clarified comments he made regarding the purpose of the Select Committee on Benghazi.

On Wednesday, McCarthy made a statement about the committtee that members on both sides of the aisle heavily criticized.  He appeared to connect the formation of the Committee with Hillary Clinton's drop in the polls.  Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has threatened to pull Democrats from the Committee when it meets later this month.

McCarthy tried to explain his remarks by claiming that the committee had little to do with politics.

The Hill:

"I did not intend to imply in any way that that work is political. Of course it is not," he added. "This committee's sole purpose is to find the truth, why four Americans were killed that night, and that's the work they have done, that's the hearings they've done.”
 
McCarthy's attempt to clarify his original remarks from an interview Tuesday comes as Democrats on Capitol Hill have seized his comments as validation that the House Select Committee on Benghazi is simply a partisan panel focused on Clinton and should be shuttered. 
 
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday threatened to end Democratic participation in the bipartisan panel, calling McCarthy's original remarks "unethical."
 
McCarthy, who is the favorite to replace outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) as the top Republican in the House, has also faced heat from Republicans for his remark. 
 
“I’m very supportive of Kevin McCarthy, but those statements are just absolutely inappropriate. They should be withdrawn; Mr. McCarthy should apologize. I think it was absolutely wrong,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” on Thursday.
 
McCarthy said Thursday evening on Fox that he spoke with the Benghazi committee's chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), and expressed regret for his initial comments.
 
"I talked to Trey and I told him, I regret that this has ever taken place, it is never my intension — and Trey goes, 'I know it was not your intention, because you know it's not political,' " he said.
 
"Think for one moment. Look at the work they have done. Look at the work that Trey has done. No one questions Trey's integrity or this committee. It was never my intention to ever imply that this committee was political, because we all know that it is not," McCarthy told Baier.
 
The presidential campaign of Clinton, the secretary of State at the time of the Benghazi attacks, has seized on McCarthy's initial remark this week and considers it a "watershed moment" for the committee that has been operating for 16 months, a senior Clinton aide told The Hill.
 
"This is not what you're going to see from the Speaker of the House," McCarthy said. 
 
"We're going to be able to win this race," McCarthy said, adding that he is "really close" to having the necessary votes to become Speaker. 

Unaccustomed to the big stage, McCarthy made an unforced error – and a big one.  Clinton can now claim that the Committee is a setup to bring her down, and the press will fall in line behind that narrative. 

But Clinton is hardly out of the woods with the Committee, and Democrats are in a bind if they walk out on Trey Gowdy.  A report is going to be written, and if the Democrats don't want only one side of the proceedings to be published, they will be forced to stay.

The remarks call into question McCarthy's fitness to be a spokesman for the party.  But realistically, he can't be any worse than John Boehner, so his prospects to ascend to the speakership probably haven't been harmed.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the odds-on favorite to replace John Boehner as speaker, clarified comments he made regarding the purpose of the Select Committee on Benghazi.

On Wednesday, McCarthy made a statement about the committtee that members on both sides of the aisle heavily criticized.  He appeared to connect the formation of the Committee with Hillary Clinton's drop in the polls.  Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has threatened to pull Democrats from the Committee when it meets later this month.

McCarthy tried to explain his remarks by claiming that the committee had little to do with politics.

The Hill:

"I did not intend to imply in any way that that work is political. Of course it is not," he added. "This committee's sole purpose is to find the truth, why four Americans were killed that night, and that's the work they have done, that's the hearings they've done.”
 
McCarthy's attempt to clarify his original remarks from an interview Tuesday comes as Democrats on Capitol Hill have seized his comments as validation that the House Select Committee on Benghazi is simply a partisan panel focused on Clinton and should be shuttered. 
 
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday threatened to end Democratic participation in the bipartisan panel, calling McCarthy's original remarks "unethical."
 
McCarthy, who is the favorite to replace outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) as the top Republican in the House, has also faced heat from Republicans for his remark. 
 
“I’m very supportive of Kevin McCarthy, but those statements are just absolutely inappropriate. They should be withdrawn; Mr. McCarthy should apologize. I think it was absolutely wrong,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” on Thursday.
 
McCarthy said Thursday evening on Fox that he spoke with the Benghazi committee's chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), and expressed regret for his initial comments.
 
"I talked to Trey and I told him, I regret that this has ever taken place, it is never my intension — and Trey goes, 'I know it was not your intention, because you know it's not political,' " he said.
 
"Think for one moment. Look at the work they have done. Look at the work that Trey has done. No one questions Trey's integrity or this committee. It was never my intention to ever imply that this committee was political, because we all know that it is not," McCarthy told Baier.
 
The presidential campaign of Clinton, the secretary of State at the time of the Benghazi attacks, has seized on McCarthy's initial remark this week and considers it a "watershed moment" for the committee that has been operating for 16 months, a senior Clinton aide told The Hill.
 
"This is not what you're going to see from the Speaker of the House," McCarthy said. 
 
"We're going to be able to win this race," McCarthy said, adding that he is "really close" to having the necessary votes to become Speaker. 

Unaccustomed to the big stage, McCarthy made an unforced error – and a big one.  Clinton can now claim that the Committee is a setup to bring her down, and the press will fall in line behind that narrative. 

But Clinton is hardly out of the woods with the Committee, and Democrats are in a bind if they walk out on Trey Gowdy.  A report is going to be written, and if the Democrats don't want only one side of the proceedings to be published, they will be forced to stay.

The remarks call into question McCarthy's fitness to be a spokesman for the party.  But realistically, he can't be any worse than John Boehner, so his prospects to ascend to the speakership probably haven't been harmed.