S.C. Republican Will Head Up the Benghazi Select Committee

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

House Republicans have tapped South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy to head up a select committee to investigate Benghazi.

In a statement Monday, House Speaker John Boehner called Gowdy "as dogged, focused, and serious-minded as they come." The former federal prosecutor is known for his aggressive style and dramatic questioning during congressional hearings.

"I know he shares my commitment to get to the bottom of this tragedy and will not tolerate any stonewalling from the Obama administration," Boehner said. "I plan to ensure he and his committee have the strongest authority possible to root out all the facts."

The House is expected to vote to create the committee this week, perhaps as early as Thursday.

Democrats will whip against the vote to create the committee, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer told reporters Monday. But Hoyer wouldn't indicate whether Democrats will want to be included in the committee.

"We haven't seen the language of what they're talking about," Hoyer said. "We've made it pretty clear that we think this a political, not a substantive effort, and if they want to have a substantive effort than it ought to be an equally balanced committee so that this is not an exercise in partisanship."

Boehner announced the creation of the committee last week. Additionally, the House Oversight Committee issued a subpoena for Secretary of State John Kerry to appear before that panel May 21 to answer questions about how the Obama administration responded to the attack in Libya. 

All of this raises Benghazi, which has turned into a favorite political issue of Republicans, to a new level of congressional scrutiny. The work of the committee will help keep the issue in the headlines in the height of midterm election season.

The flurry of new activity around investigating Benghazi comes on the heels of the release of an email, obtained by the conservative group Judicial Watch, which Republicans point to as a "smoking gun" that the White House was involved in a cover-up. The email was sent by White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes to then-United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, ahead of her scheduled appearances on several Sunday talk shows to discuss the attacks in Libya, and it suggests the White House had a role in shaping how Rice discussed the attacks.

But it's unclear that lawmakers can actually dig up new information; Congress has already held numerous hearings delving into Benghazi, and Democrats are calling the select committee a waste of time and money.

"One thing this Congress is not short on is what happened before, during, and after the attacks on Benghazi," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.

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