— -- Frustrated Democrats on the House special committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack released separate findings today, pre-empting the long-awaited results expected to be announced by the committee's Republicans as early as Tuesday.
Committee Democrats, led by Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., say it was necessary to release their own report because the Republicans, led by Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., refused to issue a joint report that would incorporate Democratic opinions.
The Benghazi Select Committee was established over two years ago even after numerous official investigations had already been launched, paving the way for a highly contentious process that Democrats say is aimed at attacking former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and derailing her presidential bid.
The Democrats say their 339-page report "debunks many conspiracy theories about the attacks." Some of the report's 21 findings have been reached by others — such as the conclusion that "the State Department’s security measures in Benghazi were woefully inadequate," as this report puts it, and that the Defense Department could not have done anything differently that night to save lives.
Also, the report seeks to counter an argument often made by Republicans that Barack Obama's administration lied about the attackers' motivations — blaming an anti-Muslim video for inspiring a spontaneous attack rather than concluding it was a coordinated action by militants.
"Administration officials did not make intentionally misleading statements about the attacks but instead relied on information they were provided at the time under fast-moving circumstances," the report reads.
The report quotes March testimony from Gen. David Petraeus, who was the CIA director at the time of the attack.
"I'm still not absolutely certain what absolutely took place, whether it was a mix of people that are demonstrating with attackers in there, whether this is an organized demonstration to launch an attack, whether ... there was a protest and it grew out of the protest," he told the committee.
Petraeus said video of the attack makes it unclear if there were protesters mixed in with attackers.
The Democrats' report also concludes that the committee found no evidence that Clinton denied any security requests from personnel in Benghazi.
The report includes a 45-page indictment of Republicans' management of the committee and investigation and claims the majority wasted time and resources for political purposes while excluding Democrats from several witness meetings and interviews.
"Benghazi Committee Democrats' obsession with the former secretary of state is on full display. For over two years they refused to participate in the majority’s serious, fact-centered investigation. The dishonest Democrats on this committee falsely claimed everything had been 'asked and answered.' They said the committee had found 'absolutely nothing new.' If that's changed, they should come clean and admit it. If not, everyone can ignore their rehashed, partisan talking points defending their endorsed candidate for president," Benghazi Committee press secretary Matt Wolking said in a statement.
He continued, “As Chairman Gowdy has said, this is not about one person. This investigation is about the four brave Americans we lost in Libya: Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty. That is how the majority has conducted its thorough investigation, and we look forward to revealing the new information we have uncovered to the families and the American people.”
Republicans have also leveled criticism at Democrats throughout the process, accusing them of coordinating with the Clinton campaign and refusing to apply pressure on the administration to fulfill document requests. They say the committee has interviewed more than 100 witnesses, including many who were not interviewed by other panels investigating the attacks.