LIMA — U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan will continue to push this year for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other officials to testify to the House Oversight Committee about the 2012 Benghazi, Libya, attack because he believes she is personally responsible.
Jordan wants to hear from Clinton, President Barack Obama’s national security advisor and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, and Clinton’s State Department Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills.
“My frustration is we haven’t had the three witnesses I think are critical,” Jordan said. “We will continue to push for them. I do believe, because there is a group of us that are going to push for this, I do believe they will be in front of the committee.”
Clinton, a possible 2016 presidential candidate, previously testified in front of the House and Senate foreign affairs committees.
Jordan, R-Urbana, sits on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and also chairs the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending. He represents Ohio’s 4th Congressional District.
Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi, Libya. Stevens had requested more security from the State Department, but it was denied. A bipartisan report from the Senate Intelligence Committee released Jan. 15 called the attack “preventable,” because the Clinton-run State Department denied requests to boost security despite warnings from the CIA and its own staff about the danger of militant attacks, according to the report and published stories about it.
In an interview Thursday with The Lima News, Jordan said Clinton is personally responsible for the attack, that she denied requests for more security.
“Yeah, she’s the boss,” Jordan said. “This is not France, this is not Great Britain, where you can rely on a handful of your security and rely on a host country to provide additional security. It’s Libya for goodness sake, and they’re treating it like an embassy in Canada. They knew if there was an attack on the compound, the hired help were going to drop their weapons and run or worst case fire on the good guys. So they said they needed more help. Hillary Clinton denied that.”
In a House report released in April on Benghazi, Republicans said Clinton personally signed off on cuts in security at the compound.
The April cable from State acknowledged a formal request for additional security but still ordered “the withdrawal of security elements to proceed as planned,” the Republicans said.
State Department cables, or internal messages, often are sent with the secretary of state’s signature. The report did not say whether the cable regarding security was personally signed or drafted by Clinton, according to a USA Today story.
In this month’s Senate Intelligence Committee report, Clinton is mentioned only by Republicans. The full report said security requests were denied but did not say Clinton personally denied them.
In December, Jordan Chief of Staff Ray Yonkura said his boss wants to chair the House Oversight Committee after this year. Current Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican from California, is term-limited as the committee chair. After the November election, new party leadership will be selected for 2015.
Jordan has been active and assertive with investigations into Benghazi, the IRS scandal involving tea party and conservative groups and the launch of the administration’s health care marketplace website. On Thursday, Jordan brushed the notion aside, saying he was focused on helping communicate the party’s vision for the country during this election year and continuing his oversight work.
While speaking to the Allen County Republican Party lunch in December, Yonkura said House Democrats, then the majority party, used the Oversight Committee during the last two years of President George W. Bush’s administration to weaken the Republican Party.
“The Democrats’ tactic to help break down the remainder of the Bush administration and set the table for their guy back in 2008 was to launch a relentless series of attacks and investigations against the Bush administration for Haliburton, for weapons of mass destruction, for oil company profits, for whatever under the sun they could think of to try to tag these issues to the administration,” Yonkura said.
Yonkura then said the Obama administration had real, important issues that needed to be exposed.
“And I can think of nobody better to really, nobody with the intensity of a wrestler who has the courage, hardened by fire, someone who’s demonstrated his willingness to stand up not just to the other party, but to stand up to everybody in power, someone with the core values that Jim Jordan has,” Yonkura said. “I can think of no one better to lead that effort, for Republicans, for the House, for the country, than Jim Jordan.”
Jordan on Thursday acknowledged the Oversight Committee’s investigation would continue to intersect with Clinton’s consideration of running for president. He said the Benghazi attack will continue to be an issue for her, but that he’s not investigating it for political reasons.
“I don’t view it that way. The focus of the oversight committee this year is not to bring down the other party. The focus is to get to the truth. And whatever impact that may have on the other party, so be it. People walk up to me and say, ‘I just want to know what happened.’ Four Americans lost their lives,” Jordan said. “Sixteen months later we still don’t have the answers to that. Now, the impact it may have on Mrs. Clinton? That’s up to the American people. It is what it is. Our job is the truth.”