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Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo Weighs In On House Benghazi Committee


Let's take some testimony from a member of the House committee on Benghazi. That committee is investigating an attack in Libya that killed four Americans in 2012, including the American ambassador. Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State at the time. The Republican-led committee now faces statements from at least three Republicans that its work has really been focusing on Clinton, not the dead Americans. Representative Mike Pompeo is a member of that committee. He's a Republican from Kansas. Welcome to the program.

MIKE POMPEO: Renee, it's great to be with you this morning.

MONTAGNE: Now, Congressman Pompeo, you know the statements. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy says you drove down Clinton's poll numbers - you, the committee. Another lawmaker says the investigation was largely, quote, "designed to go after Clinton." And a former staff member says that too. So what are they all missing?

POMPEO: Renee, they're just wrong. What they're missing is they haven't been engaged in this work since May of 2014, as I and my six colleagues have been. You know, I was in the Army. I know how to stay focused on a mission. And this committee has done that. We have, for the entire time, been focused on solving the riddle of how we had an ambassador murdered, the first one since 1979. And it would be investigatory malpractice if we didn't interview former Secretary Clinton. She was the senior diplomat who Christopher Stevens worked for. And we've conducted dozens of interviews, reviewed tens of thousands of pages of materials. And next Thursday, we'll have former Secretary Clinton with us. And that will be one more step along the way towards us completing the mission that we set out to do back in May.

MONTAGNE: All right. Well, we do hear coming out of that committee, you know, a lot of discussion about Clinton emails, you know, how it has been deceived or withheld - information has been withheld. It does seem like there's a lot of talk about things that would appear to be something close to mission creep.

POMPEO: Renee, this committee is the committee that discovered that Secretary Clinton didn't use a government email account. We discovered that because we were looking for information related to Libya and Benghazi. And we couldn't find it. We were stonewalled by the State Department and by former Secretary Clinton. And we now have an obligation to complete the record. And so pursuing what was on former Secretary Clinton's homebrew server is part of our investigation. And we intend to continue to investigate that to its completion. We have to get these facts. We had four Americans killed. No one's been held accountable, even to this day. And our committee is laser focused on making sure we accomplish that mission.

MONTAGNE: All right, well, it is certainly fair and understandable that you would want to see any emails that have to do with this attack. But is there - can you describe something that could conceivably be in those emails that has bearing on the attack in Libya that is different than what you already know?

POMPEO: Oh, yes ma'am. What we've - we've found much of that. A good example are the emails that Mr. Blumenthal sent that provided the intelligence upon which former Secretary Clinton appears to have based her decisions about whether or not we ought to take down - we have found lots of...

MONTAGNE: Now, Sidney Blumenthal, that would be her adviser.

POMPEO: That's right, her - that worked for the Clinton Foundation, that was rejected by the Obama administration, that then continued to provide information to Secretary Clinton on her private server for an extended period of time and in large volume. And there are many more things too, Renee. But this committee has operated in a way that has been incredibly professional. We have not leaked all of the information that we've received. So we've done lots of work. We will do it, by the way, not only next Thursday when Secretary Clinton comes before us. But we'll still be working on this on Friday. And I hope the media will say interested. We've got families of four dead Americans and the American people that deserve these answers. We will keep working until we get as close to a final product as we can possibly get. And then we'll write our report. And I think the American people will see that our committee did a professional, important task on behalf of the United States.

MONTAGNE: You know, just let me suggest another voice to you. This week, we learned that a former investigator for the committee, his name is Brad Podliska - he is a major in the Air Force Reserve - plans to sue the committee for an unlawful firing. He said he was let go in part because he wanted to conduct a thorough investigation into what happened in Benghazi, and he has not been able to do that. What's your response about? I mean, in the eyes of many Americans, this committee has lost credibility.

POMPEO: Yeah, Renee, this committee, since its formation, has been criticized. It's been attacked, frankly, from the right for not doing enough. It's been attacked from the left for doing too much. What I can tell you is that the committee itself, the seven Republican members, have been incredibly focused in a way that - I think words will have been overcome by our deeds when you see our final report. When you see us next Thursday perform this important task, I think you'll see that we are focused on what happened in Libya, what happened in Benghazi, why the United States government decided to hold no one accountable and then how it was the case that the State Department came out after the event and told the American people a tale that just turned out not to have been true.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much. That's Representative Mike Pompeo, a Republican from Kansas and a member of the Select Committee on Benghazi. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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