Congressman Mike Pompeo gave us a preview of the October 22nd House Select Committee on Benghazi hearing with Hilary Clinton on today’s show.
The audio: 10-07hhs-pompeo
HH: I’m joined now by Congressman Mike Pompeo who is on the Intelligence Committee [and] on the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Congressman Pompeo, welcome back, it’s great to see you again.
MP: It’s great to be with you, Hugh.
HH: I got to start with a Washington Examiner story which was published literally an hour ago. Representative Louise Slaughter, the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee was expected to try tonight to disband the House Select Committee amid backlash over comments by majority leader, Kevin McCarthy. Her effort was almost certain to fail. First of all, has it failed? Secondly, I don’t think there’s a backlash. I think there’s actually intensity of focus after the revelations yesterday of another server company. What’s the situation, Congressman Pompeo?
MP: In fact, it has failed. She made her effort just a little bit ago, and it failed on the House floor as it was destined to. From my perspective, as someone who’s now been at this for almost two and half years, we are bound and determined led by Chairman Gowdy to do our best to get the answers about how it was the case that under Secretary Clinton’s leadership in the State Department, we had four Americans killed at a facility she was responsible for. And the aftermath of this incident, in order to A, hold folks accountable, and B, do our best to make sure something like this never happens again.
HH: Now I do not believe Kevin McCarthy meant anything that was attributed to him, I’ve listened to the statement over and over again. he was talking about the effect of the Benghazi hearing, not their motivation. nevertheless, it’s caused him quite a lot of controversy and promised today the Freedom Caucus endorsed Daniel Webster which has got ot also create a lot of consternation. does that necessarily procure him from becoming Speaker on the ballot as expected on Thursday?
MP: My guess is that tomorrow and Thursday, Mr. McCarthy is ultimately selected as our nominee and then on the 29th, I believe, we’ll go to the House floor and there will be lots of discussion between now and then about how that will proceed.
But I do want to comment on McCarthy’s comments about Benghazi. I too listened to it a couple of time after it became quite a raucous. From perspective of Susan Brooks and Trey Gowdy and Jim Jordan and Lynn Westmohelan, all the folks on the committee. That’s just noise (laughs). I think he got it wrong or was inarticulate at best, but from our perspective it’s noise. Our task remains very, very much the same. We’ve dozens of interviews, thousands of pages of documents, and Secretary Clinton has been a small part of that investigation to date. We have more interviews before that. There will be additional interviews following that. We will ultimately write a report and she was America’s senior diplomat. It would be a complete malpractice not to seek documents from her, make sure we have a complete record, and to interview her and ask her questions so that she can articulate her role in the deaths of these four Americans.
HH: Now we saw a preview of coming attractions, I think, Congressman Pompeo, in her ad yesterday and her statement the day before and her feigned anger and her attempt to conflate soon-to-be Speaker McCarthy’s comments with the motivation of the members of the committee and the public’s desire to know. But do you think you’re going to get hour after hour of attempted faux outrage from the former Secretary of State at the hearing on the 22nd?
MP: Hugh, my expectation is that we will ask her factual questions and the requirement that she’ll have is to give us her truthful responses to those questions. I suspect there will probably be a little theater both from the Democrats on the committee and potentially`from her as a witness as well. But I hope not, I hope what the American people will see that day is that they will see evidence of exactly the way we’ve conducted this investigation so far. In pursuit of the truth, demanding that we get answers to the questions we ask so that we can complete our mission.
HH: Prosecutors are used tot theater and the good ones aren’t normally very impacted by it, and you got a lot of prosecutors on this panel. Is my expectation justified that the Republicans have reaffirmed with each other, “Let’s not get caught up in the drama. We just want the facts”?
MP: I can tell you, there are seven of us on our side and we’ve been working hard on this for a long time. We will continue to work hard in what is now a little over two weeks away. We’ll continue to prepare so that we have the information available so that we can in the time allotted effectively and efficiently ask the questions and I can tell all the folks listening to your show, watch our deeds that day, watch how we behave, watch how we ask these questions. I suspect they will come away saying that was a very professional, very thorough and very capable questioning of a person who was very much a fact-based witness to the events that led to these four Americans being murdered.
HH: Now Congressman Mike Pompeo, the ranking member of the Democrats on the committee was on CNN last night threatening to release previously non-disclosed depositions of Cheryl Mills and others. I didn’t quite follow his arguments. I honestly was listening closely. I don’t know why he would do that. What is that all about and has anyone leaked anything to your knowledge about Cheryl Mills?
MP: To my knowledge, no. No one has. My observation is, I have been around Washington for only four and half years, but I know how things usually leak out. I actually think it’s been remarkable that no member of the committee has been engaged in that type of activity. We’ve had relatively few things slip beyond what was the chairman’s commitment which was to do honor to the witnesses that came and testified under oath in private and keep that information secure. So I don’t know exactly what Mr. Cummings is speaking to. I don’t know he would contemplate at this late of date in the investigation beginning a new trend which is that we make a commitment to folks who are coming here to testify privately and then we abrogate that commitment. I don’t understand it. I’m not sure what his objective is and I haven’t seen whether they’ve released anything today or not, but I hope he has reconsidered and doesn’t do that.
HH: Did you see the interview I’m referring to in which he said he was going to do this?
MP: No sir, I didn’t see the interview. I did see a report of the interview that indicated that that was his intention.
HH: Because it just absolutely made no sense to me and if I were Cheryl Mills, I would call up and say, “How dare you use me as leverage. I gave a sworn statement under a promise of confidentiality,” and here’s a ranking Democrat saying, “I’m a tool.”
MP: That’s precisely my point. These witnesses came under a certain set of conditions and we ought to honor those. Both parties ought to honor those. Every member of the committee – Democrat or Republican – ought to honor those commitments. And you saw what Ms. Mills said when she stepped out of the witness room. She said we conducted ourselves – the committee’s inquiry – was professional and, I don’t have her exact words, but she was complimentary of the nine hours she spent with the committee.
HH: Yes, former White House counsel Cheryl Mills, former senior State Department adviser to former Secretary of State Clinton is who we’re talking about. Congressman Pompeo, I want to go back to something we talked about on this setup to October 22nd. Am` I correct that Mrs. Clinton’s counsel has said she will stay as long as the committee stays that day? Is that correct?
MP: Yes sir, that’s correct.
HH: And so, if the Democrats filibuster, people are already worried that Mrs. Clinton will try and run out the clock as President Clinton did with Ken Starr in his famous deposition at the White House. Is that possible here, if you got a commitment to got as long as anyone will go?
MP: One never knows how things will ultimately go, Hugh, but it was her counsel’s commitment that she would state so our questions were answers, so it is our expectation that we will do that efficiently. We won’t be repetitive. It is also our hope that she will answer them directly. That is, if it’s a yes or no question, we’ll conduct an answer in thirty seconds or less (laughs) and we’ll be able to cover a lot of ground quickly, efficiently, and effectively and we will be expeditious in our inquiry but thorough nonetheless. We do have an awful lot of questions that will take an extended period of time and I can speak for myself I expect Secretary Clinton to stay there until we’ve all had a chance to asks each of the questions. As she has told us, she won’t come back a second time. We need to make sure she stays until we’re complete.
HH: Now some of this will obviously be classified. Will the committee go in and out of classified session?
MP: I don’t know, I expect that we will encounter questions that require an answer that is classified, so we certainly won’t conduct those in an open hearing. Now I don’t know what the sequence will be. I don’t know if we’ll put those all to the back of the stack and go to classified setting at the end or if we’ll go back or forth, Hugh. I don’t know how that will be handled.
HH: And a last question. These are always magnets for people who want to make a display of some issue or another and inevitably they are led from the room and it eats up time. Has the committee taken any precautions to prevent that?
MP: I don’t know what the precautions are, although I have watched a number of hearings that had very controversial subjects, and I’ve watched the Capitol police handle that pretty expeditiously so that people’s 1st Amendment rights are protected which include the 1st Amendment rights of the folks who are conducting the hearing and so (laughs), I have great confidence that we will proceed without a whole lot of delay due to challenges from those who come and exercise their right to be in attendance and watch that hearing as well, of course.
HH: Congressman Mike Pompeo, member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Thank you for your time and the preview of the hearing that’s coming up on October the 22nd. Thank you for your time and the preview of the hearing that’s coming up on October the 22nd. Failing today, breaking news, the attempt by Democrats to kill the committee as it should have failed, it did. Thank you for listening, thank you Congressman Pompeo.
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