White House Press Secretary Jay Carney declined to say Monday whether the Obama Administration will cooperate with a new GOP-led probe of the 2012 attack on an American consulate in Libya, just as House Speaker John Boehner selected a chairman for the investigative panel.
"We have always cooperated with legitimate oversight," Carney said when asked if the White House will cooperate with the select committee headed by South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, before suggesting the new committee was illegitimate. "I think if you look at even what some Republicans have said, it certainly casts doubt on the legitimacy of an effort that is so partisan in nature."
Carney went on to blast Republicans for politicizing the issue, saying the committee "perpetuates a conspiracy theory without a conspiracy."
"There is a problem when you have so many conspiracy theories that get knocked down by the facts and yet the adherents to those theories only become more convinced that the facts aren't what they so clearly are," Carney said.
Responding to follow-up questions asking whether Obama would cooperate with the new investigation, Carney said he wouldn't "speculate" how the probe would proceed, or whether it would be deemed legitimate by the White House.
Boehner formed the committee last week after the release of an email that congressional Republicans say the White House withheld from previous investigations in order to shield the president. The administration maintains that the email was not included in previous releases because it fell outside the scope of the congressional request. The email did little to expand on the well-established narrative of how talking points then-United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice used were drafted after the attack, though Boehner asserted that the administration's decision to hold onto the document was a "flagrant violation of trust and undermines the basic principles of oversight upon which our system of government is built."
Republicans have tried for years to use the attack in Benghazi, which killed four Americans including Ambassador Chris Stevens, as political ammunition. But the issue has rarely gained traction outside the GOP base.