Clinton testifies before the committee on Capitol Hill in 2013.

Clinton testifies before the committee on Capitol Hill in 2013. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

A Second GOP Lawmaker Suggests Benghazi Committee’s Aim is Harming Clinton Politically

Comments by a moderate New York congressman are adding to the firestorm around panel ahead of Clinton’s Oct. 22 appearance.

A Re­pub­lic­an con­gress­man says House Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Kev­in Mc­Carthy was telling the truth when he made the in­stantly fam­ous sug­ges­tion that the House Se­lect Com­mit­tee on Benghazi is en­gin­eered to dam­age Hil­lary Clin­ton.

“Kev­in Mc­Carthy ba­sic­ally blew him­self up with that com­ment over the Benghazi Com­mit­tee. Some­times the biggest sin you can com­mit in D.C. is to tell the truth,” said Richard Hanna, a New York Re­pub­lic­an, in a ra­dio in­ter­view Wed­nes­day.

“This may not be polit­ic­ally cor­rect, but I think that there was a big part of this in­vest­ig­a­tion that was de­signed to go after people and an in­di­vidu­al, Hil­lary Clin­ton, and I think there is also a lot of it that is im­port­ant, that we needed to get to the bot­tom of this,” Hanna told the up­state sta­tion WIBX Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

The com­ments ar­rive just a week be­fore Clin­ton is slated to testi­fy be­fore the pan­el on Oc­to­ber 22 in what prom­ises to be one of the pres­id­en­tial cam­paign’s highest-pro­file events yet.

The Clin­ton cam­paign and its al­lies seized on the com­ments, which were high­lighted by the left-lean­ing web­site Think­Pro­gress last night.

“House Re­pub­lic­ans aren’t even shy any­more about ad­mit­ting that the Benghazi Com­mit­tee is a par­tis­an farce. … Hil­lary Clin­ton will still at­tend next week’s hear­ing, but at this point, Trey Gowdy’s in­quiry has zero cred­ib­il­ity left,” said cam­paign spokes­man Bri­an Fal­lon, re­fer­ring to the com­mit­tee’s chair­man.

Mc­Carthy threw the GOP-led Benghazi pan­el on the de­fens­ive two weeks ago when he cred­ited the com­mit­tee with dam­aging Clin­ton’s poll num­bers, re­marks that gave heavy am­muni­tion to Demo­crats who say the com­mit­tee is a par­tis­an weapon against her.

“Every­body thought Hil­lary Clin­ton was un­beat­able right? But we put to­geth­er a Benghazi spe­cial com­mit­tee. A se­lect com­mit­tee. What are her num­bers today?” Mc­Carthy said on Fox News in late Septem­ber.

The com­ment, which Mc­Carthy re­peatedly walked back, was among the factors that dam­aged his bid to be­come House Speak­er. He later with­drew from the race. Gowdy and oth­er Re­pub­lic­ans say the pan­el’s work is not polit­ic­al and that the probe has ex­amined mul­tiple agen­cies and un­covered sig­ni­fic­ant new in­form­a­tion about the 2012 Benghazi at­tacks.

Key Re­pub­lic­ans, from Gowdy up the lead­er­ship chain, have force­fully denied that the pan­el’s motives are polit­ic­al.

“This in­vest­ig­a­tion has nev­er been about former Sec­ret­ary of State Clin­ton and nev­er will be,” Speak­er John Boehner said in a state­ment earli­er this month, adding: “The Amer­ic­an people de­serve the truth about what happened in Benghazi. That’s al­ways been our fo­cus, and that’s go­ing to re­main our fo­cus.”

As for Hanna, a mod­er­ate three-term Re­pub­lic­an, it’s not the first time he has giv­en an as­sist to the oth­er party. In 2012, he sug­ges­ted that wo­men should donate money to Demo­crats.

In his com­ments about the Benghazi pan­el Wed­nes­day, Hanna ac­know­ledged that his view is from the out­side, be­cause he’s not on the com­mit­tee. But he ad­ded: “I have cer­tainly watched the hear­ings and read some of the tran­script. After what Kev­in Mc­Carthy said, it’s dif­fi­cult to ac­cept that at least a part of it was not [polit­ic­al]. And I think that’s the way Wash­ing­ton works, but you’d like to ex­pect more from a com­mit­tee that has spent mil­lions of dol­lars and tons of time.”