When Republicans announced that they would be abruptly releasing the conclusions to their exhaustive, five-year Benghazi witch hunt this week, political strategists were stumped. Either this meant they had something explosive and wanted to unload it, or it meant they had absolutely nothing and wanted to bury the wasted energy, money and time spent on this anti-Hillary Clinton hit job long before the election rolled around.
Upon releasing the document, it became instantly clear which option this was: Even after five years, the Republican-led Benghazi investigation found absolutely zero evidence that Hillary Clinton did anything wrong. Nor did they find a single way Clinton could have saved any of the victims. In short, the investigation was a complete and total dud.
As the New York Times summed up:
Ending one of the longest, costliest and most bitterly partisan congressional investigations in history, the House Select Committee on Benghazi issued its final report on Tuesday, finding no new evidence of culpability or wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton in the 2012 attacks in Libya that left four Americans dead.
Not that Republicans didn’t try their hardest. The investigation cost a truly staggering $7 million and took years to conduct. At every turn, the evidence suggested Clinton was not irresponsible with her actions while Secretary of State, and at every turn that evidence was ignored in the hopes that there was a bombshell just around the corner.
Also admitted to during the final report? President Obama didn’t “lie” to the American people about what happened in Benghazi. That was right-wing spin.
The investigations generally concluded that after the attack, the Obama administration’s talking points – a matter of much dispute – were flawed but not deliberately misleading.
The idea that President Obama would have all the information to accurately describe what was unfolding in Benghazi as it happened was preposterous. As someone once wryly remarked, George W. Bush spent years telling the American public that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, President Obama spent a few hours saying “we don’t know” what happened in Benghazi. Hardly an impeachable offense.
Nevertheless, Republicans – including Trump’s campaign – have tried to make a lot of political noise based on these rumors. In a sick irony, Trump’s own lawyer spent the same morning this report was released openly accusing Hillary Clinton of “murder” because of Benghazi.
— Michael Cohen (@MichaelCohen212) June 28, 2016
Clinton was understandably relieved to have this nonsense put past her. Despite the lack of evidence, certain corners of the internet routinely cited Benghazi as a reason not to vote for her. That talking point has finally and comprehensively come undone.
“After more than two years and more than $7 million in taxpayer funds, the Committee report has not found anything to contradict the conclusions of the multiple, earlier investigations,” a spokesman for the Clinton campaign said in a statement. “This report just confirms what Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and even one of Trey Gowdy’s own former staffers admitted months ago: this Committee’s chief goal is to politicize the deaths of four brave Americans in order to try to attack the Obama administration and hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”
In many ways, this final white flag by Republicans represents the increasingly despondent way they are viewing the upcoming election. Their candidate is a belligerent, self-aggrandizing bigot that is currently losing by historic numbers in the polls. If the GOP had any shot at competing in this election with that guy, they needed something like Benghazi to derail Clinton. Instead, they were forced to admit there was nothing there.
By releasing the report now, there is a clear sense that the Republican Party is hoping to dig their trenches, hunker down and wait out whatever comes next. The Benghazi investigation going down in flames isn’t exactly a game-ender, but it’s certainly not the game-changer they had hoped for either.
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