Rep. Jason Chaffetz on Wednesday condemned comments by fellow Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy that suggested the Benghazi House select committee had succeeded by tarnishing Hillary Clinton.
Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room,” Chaffetz, R-Utah, said McCarthy should apologize, saying the California Republican made an “absolutely inappropriate statement.”
“That was not the reason we started. We started because there were four dead Americans and we didn’t have answers,” Chaffetz said.
McCarthy, who is the leading contender to become the next House speaker, said Tuesday night that the GOP-led Congress had succeeded by bringing down Clinton’s poll numbers because of the long-running investigation into the 2012 terror attack that killed four Americans.
“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?” McCarthy said on Fox News. “But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not fought.”
Other House Republicans on Wednesday sharply repudiated McCarthy’s comments, saying they undermined their party’s messaging on a key issue and raised questions about his ability to be the GOP’s top communicator.
Privately, Republicans were outraged by the remarks, saying the House majority leader had given Democrats unfounded ammunition to argue that the committee’s investigation is squarely being driven by politics. Republicans on the committee had tried for months to keep the focus of the inquiry on the administration’s handling of the attacks, avoiding getting into the ins and outs of the various aspects on the email stories.
CNN’s Manu Raju, Deirdre Walsh and Tal Kopan contributed to this report.