Benghazi. It was the go-to faux outrage story that Republicans latched onto to try and smear the former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. For years, Republicans tried to find her at fault for a terrorist attack, leading House select committees to investigate the killing of a U.S. diplomat, two CIA operatives, and another American in Libya on September 11, 2012.
Chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), led a two-year investigation. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was also a member of the committee as a former Republican congressman from Kansas. Gowdy, Pompeo, and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) helped make Benghazi a ubiquitous rallying cry against Clinton when she went on to run for president.
The word took on a life of its own as Republicans chanted, “Never forget, Benghazi” on social media, suggesting they cared deeply about the late Ambassador Chris Stevens. They held Clinton to blame, and many of them still do even though there was never evidence of wrongdoing.
USA Today reported that Congress spent more time investigating Benghazi than it did the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Nevertheless, in December 2016, the Select Committee on Benghazi shut down after spending $7.8 million and finding no dirt on Clinton.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) appeared on Fox News, giving away the game when he said, “Her numbers are dropping,” which critics say was evidence Republicans were leading purely political investigations.
The investigation revealed Clinton’s use of a private email server, which then became another meritless Republican rallying cry against Clinton. Only recently, long after Trump took the White House, did Trump’s state department conclude there was no “deliberate mishandling of classified information.” There was no comment from Republicans – no admission that the years they spent saying “Lock her up!” were without any basis whatsoever.
Today, Hillary Clinton is not running for office. Instead, Trump has been impeached in the House for attempting to get dirt on another political rival, Joe Biden. The days of Benghazi and the long, endless refrains of, “but her emails,” are over. Republicans have new political foes to scrutinize and accuse of something –any shiny object will do.
Although Republicans pretended to care about Ambassadors in Libya today, the Post reports that Trump has eliminated funding for a program that would honor the late Ambassador Stevens. It’s the third time the dedicated funding was removed by Trump’s budget officials. Did you ever hear one Republican offer criticism?
Trump eliminates funding for program honoring Ambassador Stevens, who was killed in Benghazi https://t.co/kUfwdfDgg2
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) February 16, 2020
“The Trump administration has zeroed out of the State Department budget a request from a nonprofit entity set up in honor of J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador killed in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 terrorist attacks.”
“The agency’s fiscal 2021 budget proposal cuts $420 million from its educational and cultural programs, including $5 million for the Stevens Initiative, an organization created to memorialize the late ambassador’s dedication to cultivating international exchanges.”
Keep in mind; Trump has always used Benghazi as a means to attack Clinton. Even recently, when Trump ordered the killing of Iran’s top general, he cited Benghazi.
In January, Trump gloated about attacking Iran before a rally in Toledo. He claimed Iran was about to attack four embassies. However, the Post noted that Trump’s claims were unfounded.
“This was the anti-Benghazi,” Trump crowed. “We did it exactly the opposite of Benghazi, where they got there so late. All they saw when they got there days later were burning embers from days before. It’s all they saw. We got there very early. We saw what was happening. I saw what was happening. I said what’s that all about? And that was going to be another Benghazi had they broken through the final panels of glass.”
If Trump cared about Benghazi or Ambassadors in general, then why would he now be moving to eliminate funding for Steven’s memorial fund? Why would Trump and Pompeo have treated the former Ambassador to Ukraine so shamelessly?
“The Ukraine impeachment probe into President Trump’s conduct revealed that the White House operated a shadow diplomacy outside normal State Department channels that included an effort to smear the reputation of then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Yovanovitch, a career Foreign Service officer, was later unceremoniously removed from her Post.
Pompeo has come under fire for not doing more to protect Yovanovitch professionally or personally.”
All of this only serves to show that Republicans are masters of bad faith investigations of using any means necessary to lead conspiracy-driven smear campaigns against decorated 33-year veteran diplomats.
Even so, the same Republicans who pretended to care so deeply about Ambassador Stevens readily turned to attack Yovanovitch along with Trump and his cronies. The same Republicans won’t care that Trump cut funding to honor Stevens even after they spent years posting, “Never forget Benghazi.”
The pathetic truth is they are hungry, ravenous for the next Benghazi on Biden, on Bernie, or whoever gets the Democratic nomination. They clearly don’t care if the dirt is real or imaginary.
They will smear any Democrat or even the most patriotic die-hard Republicans (Mitt Romney?) to play wicked, dangerous partisan games. No wonder Republicans were quick to acquit Trump for withholding millions of funds for Ukraine in exchange for dirt on Biden, regardless of merit. They have endorsed getting the dirt Republicans crave by any means necessary – using Ambassadors, fake news, and even foreign allies or adversaries.