Kevin McCarthy's boast Tuesday night that the Select Committee on Benghazi had succeeded in tanking Hillary Rodham Clinton's poll ratings has brought a rebuke from her campaign and congressional Democrats, who have long insisted the panel was set up for political gain.
"This is a damning display of honesty by the possible next Speaker of the House," Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said in an email. "Kevin McCarthy just confessed that the committee set up to look into the deaths of four brave Americans at Benghazi is a taxpayer-funded sham," Fallon continued. "This confirms Americans' worst suspicions about what goes on in Washington."
McCarthy, who is expected to succeed fellow Republican John A. Boehner of Ohio as the next speaker, touted Clinton's falling poll numbers as an example of the type of conservative leadership he will provide as speaker.
"Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?" the California Republican asked Fox News host Sean Hannity. "But we put together a Benghazi special committee. A select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known that any of that had happened had we not fought to make that happen.”
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., the ranking member of the Benghazi panel, also jumped on the comments early Wednesday.
“This stunning concession from Rep. McCarthy reveals the truth that Republicans never dared admit in public: the core Republican goal in establishing the Benghazi Committee was always to damage Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and never to conduct an even-handed search for the facts," Cummings said in a statement. "It is shameful that Republicans have used this tragedy and the deaths of our fellow Americans for political gain. Republicans have blatantly abused their authority in Congress by spending more than $4.5 million in taxpayer funds to pay for a political campaign against Hillary Clinton.”