HH: Joined in studio with me this hour and next, Eric Metaxas, author of the extraordinary biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which continues to amaze, astound and change lives, and joined this segment by Congressman Lynn Westmoreland of the 3rd District of Georgia. Chairman Westmoreland is a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He’s the deputy chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. He serves alongside of our buddy, Campbell, on the House Financial Services Committee, which is certainly a burden he has borne with great grace. And Congressman Westmoreland, welcome, it’s great to have you on the Hugh Hewitt Show.
LW: Well, thank you for having me.
HH: I want to start by asking you about the Benghazi story by David Kirkpatrick in yesterday’s New York Times. Kirkpatrick has been a guest on this show. I admire his courage. I admire his thoroughness. But it is a controversial story. How did you react to it as a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence?
LW: Well, the first thing that struck me is number one, why would they want to bring up this again at this time after you know, it had already been debunked, really, that al Qaeda didn’t have anything to do with it, when the intelligence shows that it certainly did. And so I was just shocked, and really had to start thinking about why they would have done it. And I think it’s basically for political reasons.
HH: Expand on that for me, would you, Congressman?
LW: Well, I just think, you know, I mean, this topic about who the presidential nominee was going to be for both the Republicans and Democrats, it’s been kind of a thing on the front burner, I guess. And of course, Secretary Clinton’s name has been brought up as, you know, in a monstrous lead. And you know, I think we underestimate the Obama machine/Clinton machine, what their political agenda could be, and I think she has been the frontrunner. And her comment about what difference does it make, and the fact that it’s going to come down, I think, on the State Department, and the fact that these people in Benghazi, at the mission, had been asking for help, begging for help. And it had been flatly denied. And I think they’re just trying to take that off of them and put it back on the fact that it wasn’t about al Qaeda, because of course what the President had said about, you know, I guess it had been splintered or hurt or whatever. So to me, it just seems the timing is real, real funny on this.
EM: Congressman, this is Eric Metaxas. Thanks for being on the Hugh Hewitt Show, by the way. I want to play the role of naïve person here and ask you to see through the implications of what you’ve just said. You basically said, now I’ve heard this, I’ve read this on some conservative websites, and I think a lot of conservatives like me are inclined to think this may be true. But to hear it from a Congressman, to say that you think that a major journalist for the New York Times has changed his story in order to help people that he would consider his political allies, a journalist for the New York Times, that’s a tremendous accusation. It’s a tremendous statement, because we’re talking, again, we’re talking about the New York Times. This is not some crazy website. When you say something like that, I mean, I think we all get used to hearing things like this, but we shouldn’t get used to it. That’s a staggering thing that a journalist for the “paper of record” would do something like that, or even would be thought capable of doing that, do you really, again, what would make you think that they would go that far?
LW: Well, let me just, you know, how far have, has this gone in this country? I mean, five years ago, if you would have asked people where we would be in this country today with socialized medicine, all the regulations, the hard left that this country has taken, nobody would have believed it. So this whole, this whole governing, you know, what this President and the people he’s appointed and the whole thing, what it’s done is we’re all still trying to get our head around it. So we can’t, at least in my opinion, I can’t phantom all the stuff that I see on MSNBC and these guys that just get so excited about this President and this administration.
EM: Well, but it’s one thing if Chris Matthews get excited about the President. But to say that the New York Times doing…
LW: Well, I know, but my point is this. Isn’t it strange timing that sixteen months after the Benghazi point has been proven that al Qaeda was involved, and the very fact that we have spent hours interviewing eight American warriors, heroes, that were in Benghazi on that night, that a journalist would go spend a couple of months in Libya talking about the people that claimed to have some knowledge of this attack and who did it?
HH: Congressman, Hugh here. Did Mr. Kirkpatrick attempt to talk to you?
HH: Did he attempt to talk to any of your colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee?
LW: Sir, I don’t know that.
HH: And does what he wrote contradict evidence that you know to be sworn and given to the House investigators for the Intelligence Committee?
LW: The information he gave, is writing about, is incorrect according to the people that have come before our committee and answered the questions that we have given them. And it also goes against the intelligence community, who has picked up conversations, traffic. We’ve looked at over 4,000 cables in there, and there’s no question that they were involved. And so you know, for me, all we’re trying to do in our committee, and Chairman Rogers, Speaker Boehner, everybody has said we are after the truth, and we’re going to chase down everything that we need to run aground to find out exactly what the truth is. And so we have done that. We’ve heard the testimony, we’ve seen the documentation, and we know we’re right. And so it’s just awfully funny to me that somebody, whether they’re the New York Times or the Fayette Citizen, would want to start this debate back up to take off what is to come out of what I hope we will issue as a committee report, because if they can crack the credibility of what we’ve been doing on this story, then you know, it will hurt the truth when it comes out.
HH: To sum up, then, do you believe that the New York Times is acting to shield Hillary Clinton from the consequences of her maladministration of the Department of State?
LW: I don’t know that they’re intentionally doing that. But the Department of State, look, all I can tell you is that…
EM: How could it be unintentional? Why would we be discussing it if it weren’t intentional? I guess I’m confused by why you’d qualify it that way.
LW: Well, no, I’m just saying, did he say I’m going to set out to do this? Or I don’t know what his political views are.
EM: Well, you don’t need to know, because I can tell you. But the point is that if we’re saying, again, it’s the New York Times. We know the New York Times is generally left-leaning. It’s one thing to be generally left-leaning. It’s another thing to alter facts or hide facts to make a story say what you want.
LW: Would that be the first time that any of media had done that?
EM: Well, no, but it should be the last if it’s provable that the New York Times would have done something like this.
LW: Well, sure.
EM: This is such an important story to the whole world…
LW: I agree.
EM: …that it really would be, I think, a new level for them, at least in my experience.
HH: Last question, Congressman. On the Intelligence Committee, do your colleagues share your reaction to the Kirkpatrick story?
LW: Everybody that I have talked to, of course, we’re not in session now, but you know, the several people that I have talked to, yes, they very much share it. In fact, I don’t know that you would find anybody, Democrat or Republican, on that committee that does not share my belief as far as the involvement of al Qaeda. Now…
HH: Will you call him as a witness? Would you call David Kirkpatrick as a witness?
LW: For what?
HH: To find out methods and sources that went into the construction of his story.
LW: You know, I think that would just give it more credibility.
HH: Oh, I think it would be, I think it would be great. He might decline to appear. I’m not talking about subpoena. But I would really love to have guys like you who know what’s in the classified material ask him questions about his methods and sources. Do you think that’s possible? We have only 15 seconds.
LW: Well, let me say this. Don’t you think it should have been, don’t you think he should have called and asked us before he did the report?
HH: Yeah, that would be a good question to ask him.
EM: That’s the first question you should ask him. I pray you will do that.
HH: Yeah, Congressman Westmoreland, Happy New Year to you.
End of interview.