Congressman Devin Nunes On The Select Committee On Benghazi
HH: So happy to welcome back now Congressman Devin Nunes of Central California. He got elected to Congress in 2003. He’s one of our rising young stars from the Central Valley. Congressman Nunes, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show. It’s always a great pleasure to talk to you.
DN: Thanks, Hugh, it’s been a while. Great to be back on.
HH: Well, what a day for news. This Select Committee is huge. And let me tell you what I’ve said and then get your reactions. I hope Trey Gowdy’s the chairman. I hope Andrew McCarthy’s the chief counsel. I hope you’re on it. I’m hoping that we put Ron DeSantis and Mike Pompeo on it. I want all our sharp people who are not show horses, but will get to the bottom of this. What do you know about what the Speaker is thinking?
DN: Well, I’ve been working closely with the Speaker for a long time on this behind the scenes. As you know, there’s been an ongoing investigation by several committees. I serve on the Intelligence Committee, so I’ve been deep into this issue for a while. And this was long overdue. The question was that we never could find any information that led back to the White House. Well, we found out this week the reason we never could find that out was because they had ignored our subpoenas and weren’t giving us the paperwork and the documents we were asking for.
HH: So I’m glad it’s happening, because they obviously, the Rhodes email is the straw that broke the camel’s back. When do you expect to find out who is going to be named? And do you know who is going to be on this committee?
DN: Well, I don’t think we know, yet. The conversations that I’ve had today with the Speaker’s office, I want to make sure that we have the right scope of the investigation. I think a lot of folks are, can say well, this is about Benghazi. I want to make sure that this is not just only about what happened in Benghazi, but really what I call the manipulation of intelligence for the purposes of playing politics…
DN: …which the irony in all of this is, you know, this is what the Democrats accused President George W. Bush about leading up the war in Iraq, never with any proof of that. But here we have, it’s one of those classic sayings of doing as I say, not as I do. And I think what you’re going to find is this administration is not just manipulating intelligence on Benghazi, but I think it’s much bigger, much broader as it comes to not just the fight on terrorism, but other international issues.
HH: Well, I go back to my days in the Reagan Department of Justice and the White House Counsel’s Office, Congressman, and I know how complicated and hard it is, and that the chief counsel of this committee will be a critical, critical hire. Will that selection be left up to the chairman of the committee was would normally be the case? Or will leadership exercise a role there, because I’m already thinking you need someone like Andrew McCarthy, who is an experience prosecutor of the Blind Sheikh and folks like that. Is that going to be a Speaker’s call or a Select Committee chairman’s call?
DN: Well, one of the big questions is, and you’re hitting the nail right on the head, Hugh, and that is this involves some of the most secretive programs that we have in the country. And so a lot of the work that’s going to have to be done is going to have to be done behind closed doors, because we’re going to have to call in a lot of folks that are, you know, that are basically working for the U.S. Government, that work quietly, that work in the shadows, that do a good job. But we don’t want to jeopardize their career. So a lot of what’s going to have to be done is going to have to be done behind closed doors in order to get the information to get the evidence that is going to lead to the White House. So we’re going to have to start at the bottom and move up. So because of this, it’s going to be, it’s going to have to have quite, I think more power than the normal committee, because the jurisdiction is going to have to be so broad. I mean, you know what I’m saying in relation to our intelligence programs.
HH: I wonder if you would agree with me there can be both a public and a private track, a non-classified and a classified track. Your staffs are all going to have to have SEI clearances out the wazoo, but it seems to me that there can be, hopefully in July and August, for the benefit of the public education, the public side, just reviewing what we all ought to know, and calling people to testify who are not clearance necessary. So do you think we get underway in July and August and have public hearings that absorb a lot of our attention?
DN: Well, I guess we get under, right away we get to work. And I think you said it earlier. We need work horses, not show horses. And there’s a lot of work, a lot of interviews that have to be conducted before we get to the point where we put people essentially on public trial. So a lot of what’s happened, what people have seen, is it’s tough to get the witnesses there, tough to get information, tough to get the documents. And when they get there, it’s easy to basically just eat up the clock, run out the time under kind of your standard House of Representatives committee. So you know, the point that I’m trying to make is that there’s a lot of work that has to go into gathering information that, you know, like for example, we need to know all of the people that were on that Ben Rhodes email. We need to interview all of them. And then from there, we need to decide which ones need to come public for basically for trial.
HH: Yeah, and we need to know who was on the conference call with Gregory Hicks and Secretary of State Clinton that night. And we need to know if NSA actually has a transcript of it or a recording, lots of stuff to ask. But that requires prosecutors. That’s what I keep coming back to, Congressman Nunes. Do you expect hardened, seasoned prosecutors on this committee both as members and staff, because that’s what, this is not a political committee. This is a prosecutorial committee.
DN: Well, my guess is, and I don’t want to get ahead of the Speaker on this, or our leadership, but there has been an ad hoc group of members that the Speaker put together several months ago that’s basically, I think, a precursor to what would ultimately become this new Select Committee. And my guess is that he’s going to look to those members first, because those are the members who have been putting in the work and know a lot of the facts on the case. Now I’ve been one of those members. I don’t want to break the news on all the other members on your show today, because I’m not sure which ones actually want to be involved publicly. But my guess is that’s where the Speaker will start.
HH: And it sounds to me like you’re going to be on that committee. Am I correct, Congressman?
DN: Well, I’ve been on the ad hoc committee that the Speaker put together months ago, so I can’t imagine that he’s going to change people midstream.
HH: And you’ve got the clearances, because you’re on Intel as well. So going back to that chief counsel, will you guys at least talk about Andrew McCarthy as your chief counsel?
DN: Well, there’s going to have to, obviously, we have to bring in, and we need more than one. We’re going to need a chief counsel, we’re going to need someone who can run the committee, and we’re going to need a lot of researchers.
HH: Yeah, I’m talking about that number one guy, because that’s the most important. That’s the hire I’m going to look at, is whoever you name chief counsel is the guy who’s going to drive the committee. Will you at least look at Andrew?
DN: Oh, yeah, of course. We’ll look at everyone. But I’m not going to be the one to make that decision, Hugh, you know that.
HH: Oh, you’re not going to be the chairman?
DN: I don’t think so. I don’t think so.
HH: All right, Trey Gowdy would be good with me, too. Devin Nunes, you made a little news. Thank you, my friend. There’s one member of our Select Committee.
End of interview.