WASHINGTON - House Democrats opened the door Tuesday to participating in a special panel's investigation of the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, even if they see it as little more than an election-year ploy by Republicans to discredit the Obama administration and motivate GOP voters.
Laying out her party's conditions, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Republicans must conduct interviews and share information as part of their new inquest into the Obama administration's response to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic post that killed four Americans. She called for the same number of Democrats as Republicans on the panel, a demand the GOP majority immediately rejected.
"If this review is to be fair, it must be truly bipartisan," Pelosi (D., Calif.), said in a statement. Later, she told reporters that rank-and-file Democrats are "suspicious of whatever the Republicans are trying to do."
With midterm elections looming closer, Republicans are sharpening their focus on the Benghazi attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. A vote to authorize the probe is expected this week. A senior GOP congressman has issued a subpoena to Secretary of State John Kerry to testify before a separate committee. And the subject could surface in multiple other congressional hearings this week.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R., Ohio) has yet to outline his full plan for the select panel, whose establishment is all but a formality in the GOP-controlled House. But the Republican chosen by Boehner to head the investigation said Democrats wouldn't get the same number of seats - and votes - on the committee.
"Look, we're in the majority for a reason. We have more seats in the House," said Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, a second-term congressman from South Carolina and former prosecutor. He called Pelosi's comments a "good sign" that she is considering Democratic participation.
Republicans want a 7-5 ratio on the committee.