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Gowdy: 'Southern Politeness' Isn't Working in Benghazi Probe

Gowdy plans to "ratchet up" the Benghazi hearings. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Well, that honeymoon is over. After months of public deference toward one another, the top Republican and the ranking Democrat on the House Benghazi committee put on the gloves Tuesday.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., accused Chairman Trey Gowdy of violating repeated promises to conduct a nonpartisan investigation into the 2012 terror attack in Libya that cost the lives of four Americans. The South Carolina Republican fired back that Obama administration officials are deliberately wasting the panel's time. "Letters haven't worked. Southern politeness hasn't worked," Gowdy said as Tuesday's two-hour hearing closed, warning Democrats and the State Department's Joel Rubin, who testified at the hearing, that, "We're going to ratchet it up."  

Republicans and Democrats on the 12-member committee, empaneled last May and charged by Speaker John A. Boehner with consolidating several ongoing House investigations, spent much of Tuesday's hearing trading jibes.  

Cummings opened with a prepared statement in which he expressed "grave concerns about the partisan path this committee has taken over the past year."  

Cummings and Gowdy said all the right things when the panel began its work last year , but in recent weeks tensions have flared, with Republicans complaining that the State Department is withholding documents and information related to the case and Democrats frustrated that Gowdy and Co. are conducting secret interviews of witnesses.  

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