Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, a member of the Select Committee on Benghazi in the House, joined me Wednesday to talk about the hearing which began the Committee’s public proceedings and the schedule ahead:
HH: Joined now by Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan. He represents Ohio’s 4th Congressional District. Of course, he is a member of the select committee investigating Benghazi chaired by Trey Gowdy, whose first hearing was so interesting last week. He joins me now. Congressman, welcome back, it’s good to speak with you.
JJ: Good to be with you today, Hugh.
HH: What is, before we go to the Benghazi hearings, what’s your reaction to the move on Monday night by the President to open the new front in the war by massive bombing and cruise attacks on Syria?
JJ: Well, I think most members of Congress were always for ramping up the air attacks on ISIS. And frankly, that’s regardless of whether they’re in Iraq or in Syria. So I think that’s welcome news. The real debate was this idea that we are somehow going to train the “moderate” rebels, and many of those individuals are terrorists themselves, and give them weapons, and where that may lead. But ramping up the air strikes was, I think, something that everyone thought we needed to do when you’re trying to stop something as evil as this terrorist organization.
HH: Now what’s interesting about it is that IS put out a bulletin yesterday, or two days ago, calling upon their brothers in Libya to kill the infidel, and to band together and not fight each other. Interesting to me, because you’re studying exactly what that network is and how it exists.
HH: Do you think you have a beginning to get a good picture of how the Islamist radicals of Libya exist with and among each other?
JJ: Well, no. I mean, I don’t know that anyone has a complete handle on that, and I don’t know that we have a complete handle on just how pervasive and how bad these various splinter groups and terrorist groups and parts of al Qaeda and off-shoots of al Qaeda and other terrorists. I mean I don’t know that anyone has a handle on that. What we do know is they’re bad, and what we do know is you have to defeat them, because their set goal, their stated goal, is to defeat the United States. So I think you take that for the serious threat that it is. But look, terrorists are bad, they’re evil no matter where they’re at. But what we do know is this ISIS thing is just, it’s just as terrible as you can imagine, based on what we are seeing.
HH: Now last week, Jake Tapper was on my show, and his criticism of the committee is that it lacked an end game. Does the committee have an end game, Jim Jordan, that the Gowdy committee here is what I’m referring to.
JJ: Yeah, the truth, right? I mean, look, everyone understands you’ve got the before, the during and the after, and there are complications in each of those tranches. The before, we got into that some last week with the first open hearing, where there were repeated requests for additional security. Those were repeatedly denied. Not only denied, what they asked for was reduced, even though it was an unbelievable situation where you have RPG, IED, assassination attempts on the British ambassador. The good guys on the ground said we need more good guys on the ground. The State Department higher ups said no, you know, you’re not going to get any more, in fact, we’re taking back some of what you already have. The during, I just finished a book last night, 13 Hours, the during, there are questions, these guys wanted to leave the annex and go rescue the people at the compound. And their account is someone was telling them to hold up for a while and not proceed in the timely fashion they wanted to. So that’s something that needs to be investigated. And then of course, the after, the after with the video and the spontaneous demonstration, the video being the catalyst for all this, and the Ben Rhodes email, which was the ultimate final straw that I think prompted the Speaker to name the select committee. So you have all those questions, and the truth is, we want to get to the truth. The American people deserve it, the taxpayers deserve it, but most importantly, the families of the four individuals who gave their lives for their country deserve the truth.
HH: And I think there’s intense interest that may confuse and surprise MSM, but I’m covering it extensively. What I lack, though, is any kind of a game plan. I don’t know how many hearings you plan on having, or if there’s a schedule printed. Has the chairman and the committee gotten together and said at least we can make public that we’ll have hearings on these days over these months, yet, Jim Jordan?
JJ: No, and in fact, Hugh, and this is our frustration for all of this, members of Congress included. To ramp up a committee, to hire the kind of good investigators, good lawyers that you need, and then for them to get the top, top level clearance which they need to function as staff on this committee, that all takes time. To get the documents, for goodness sake, we’ve had subpoenas out for many of the standing committees that were looking into this issue. Now you’ve got the select committee, so you’ve got to get those documents from those committees. The ones they haven’t collected, yet, you have to work our will on the State Department, will other agencies give us those documents that we need. So that all takes time. So it is a slow process, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not important. It’s critically important that we get to the truth. That’s what the chairman has said. I have the utmost faith in Trey’s ability to lead this committee. And the objective is real simple, to get to the truth. No matter how long it takes, no matter how frustrating it gets, our job is to get to the truth.
HH: But do we have any indications of which hearings are certain to be scheduled, and when they will be?
JJ: No, no. I mean, look, the first hearing was selected by the Democrats. I mean, they asked for that topic, the ARB. And Chairman Gowdy was very accommodating. We had that hearing. I thought there was some important information we learned from that hearing, namely that the State Department’s yet to implement the number one recommendation by the Best Practices Panel, which the ARB put together, name these people who are experts in the field, and the number one recommendation, the one that makes a lot of the others hinge upon that number one recommendation, they’re not going to implement that. So to me, that was one of the big takeaways. Had the State Department learned? What’s it going to take for them to actually do what the smartest guys in the security field say they should do, what Madeleine Albright suggested they should do back in 2000, and they’ve yet to implement that?
HH: Now Mr. Jordan, there was also a call made from the Department of State that night in the middle of the events unfolding in Benghazi to Greg Hicks in the Tripoli mission where he was then effectively in command since the ambassador was missing, from Secretary of State Cinton’s office, along with a number of other people. I have asked Darrell Issa a number of times, I’m going to ask Trey Gowdy if he’s ever on, and I’m going to ask you. Has a subpoena been given to the NSA for a recording of that conversation in whatever form it might exist, digital or actual transcription, so that we can know what the Secretary of State and her aides discussed with Mr. Hicks that night on that important phone call?
JJ: To my knowledge, no. That doesn’t mean it won’t be. That will be a call for the chairman. But to my knowledge, I don’t know that. It may have been, but I do not know, Hugh. So I can speculate, but that’s just, that would be just that, speculation. But if that’s something that the chairman and the committee thinks is needed to get to the truth, I’m sure the chairman will pursue that.
HH: Yeah, it just seems to me that you’ve got the principal, the Secretary of State, talking to the number two, who was effectively number one because the ambassador is missing and probably murdered, and they have a long conversation, and we know that NSA records all conversation that go abroad, sometimes in highly encrypted fashion. I am frustrated that no one has asked for that, because that will reveal everything we need to know about the Secretary of State and the 7th floor’s action that night, and whether or not they were engaged in a cover-up, or a cover their rear ends, or trying to get help to Benghazi as quickly as possible.
JJ: Yeah, look, I mean, valid point, and again, if the chairman thinks that’s what we need, then he will subpoena that. We will pursue that. But that will be Trey’s, just like last week when Ray Maxwell came forward and led to that, there were documents that were withheld from the ARB. We’re going to look into that as well, just like the three individuals who were, who two weeks ago went on television and talked about their book, 13 Hours, which I read. I thought it was a very compelling account, and a great book. Just like those individuals who have said certain things, that will be explored. So the chairman is determined, as I think every member of that committee is, to get to the truth.
HH: Last question, is there an end date? Do you know when this will be completed by?
JJ: No, we do not. We do not.
HH: That is a, that’s all we actually needed to know. I appreciate it very much, Congressman Jordan. Good luck in the campaigning in Ohio throughout the fall. And I will see you if not before in Cleveland when the GOP convenes there in two years. Congressman Jim Jordan of the great state of Ohio.
End of interview.