House Democrats won't abandon Benghazi panel

Story highlights

  • House Democrats say they want the panel to disband, but are not going to boycott

Washington (CNN)House Democrats will remain on the select committee investigating the September 11, 2012, attacks on the U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya, members said Friday, but they still think the panel should disband.

There was chatter that after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's testimony Thursday, the committee's Democrats would leave the panel. But in a statement Friday to CNN, members said they do not want to lose the ability to keep tabs on the inquiry.
The committee is a "taxpayer-funded fishing expedition to derail Secretary Clinton's presidential campaign," the Democrats said.
    "After meeting with (Minority) Leader (Nancy) Pelosi today, we are calling on Speaker (John) Boehner to immediately shut down this abusive, wasteful, and obviously partisan effort," they added. "If the speaker rejects our request, Democrats will continue to participate at this point in order to make sure the facts are known and the conspiracy theories are debunked."

    Senate Democrats agree: 'Time to pull the plug'

    Across the Hill, Clinton's Democratic allies in the Senate sprang to her defense, complaining nothing new was learned at Thursday's 11-hour hearing.
    "Time to pull the plug," said Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, who supports Clinton's presidential bid.
    "There was not a single ray of light shed on the tragedy three years ago. The hearing did reveal what this committee is all about. Nasty, divisive, partisan attacks. The hearing completely boomeranged on the Republicans," said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who runs political messaging for Senate Democrats on a conference call with reporters.
    "But despite all the attacks, Hillary was rock solid and the Republicans failed to lay a glove on her. She looked strong, they looked terrible," Schumer added.
    Clinton, who is the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, appeared largely unscathed from her much-anticipated testimony before the committee. Republicans on the committee believe she bungled the 2012 incident when it occurred and tried to cover up her missteps, charges she refutes.
    Sen Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, which did its own investigation into the attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans, said Clinton's performance "was entirely presidential, considered, showed tremendous personal reserve."
    "I think she answered over 300 questions over those 11 hours. Those rooms get hot. The lights get bright. I think she showed a drive and a staying power," Feinstein said. "I could see her across the table from Putin."