Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) on Saturday promised that “explosive” congressional hearings over the Benghazi, Libya attacks are on the way.
“There are more Benghazi hearings coming, I think they’re going to be explosive,” Gowdy said on Fox News.
Gowdy, a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the hearings are going to be “coming quickly” and seemed to hint that the public might for the first time hear from witnesses to the September assault that left four Americans dead.
“I am bound by certain measures of confidentiality, but I would tell you that you are getting very warm,” Gowdy said when asked by a Fox News anchor whether witnesses could be coming forward. “[The hearings] are coming sooner rather than later.”
Gowdy followed that up by saying that in a trial, “direct evidence, direct testimony by eyewitnesses is always the most compelling.” He said that if there is anyone who wants to come forward, the House committee will make legal counsel available to them.
“Trust me when I tell you you will want to follow the hearings that are coming up,” he said.
Representative Jeff Duncan – “Madam Secretary, you let the consulate become a deathtrap, and that’s national security malpractice.”
Illinois Republican Rep. Joe Walsh, one of the first members of Congress to demand Attorney General Eric Holder resign over the ill-fated Operation Fast and Furious gun-walking program, told The Daily Caller that Holder’s recent use of racial politics to attack his critics appears to be something President Barack Obama “orchestrated.”
Walsh agrees with Florida Republican Rep. Allen West’s assessment of Holder’s behavior, saying Holder’s race card is the “last card in the deck.”
“This is sort of the last refuge that people on the left will go to when they’re in trouble,” Walsh said in a phone interview. “They’ll accuse their opponents of racism. My God, we’ve got tons of problems in this country and … this president, is through Eric Holder, saying, ‘Nope, you can’t criticize me. If you criticize me, we’re going to accuse you of racism.’ Shame on them, that’s terrible.”
Walsh said Obama’s continued silence in the face of Holder’s inflammatory rhetoric demonstrates that the president shares in the blame for the attorney general’s choice of words.
“His [Obama’s] silence, to me, tells me the president is complicit in this,” Walsh said. “And, even if he does come out and say something, I can’t believe Eric Holder can even make a statement like that. In his statement he refers to himself and the president. I can’t believe that Eric Holder made that statement without either understanding that the president agreed with it, or [that] he had the president’s permission to say this.”
In a front page story, Holder told The Sunday New York Times that he thinks his critics are motivated by race. Holder said some unspecified faction — which he referred to as the “more extreme segment” — is driven to criticize both him and President Barack Obama because of the color of their skin.
“This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him,” Holder said, according to the Times. “Both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.”
Walsh said Holder’s use of racial politics can also be explained by pressure the attorney general is feeling from a groundswell of House members demanding his resignation. To date 60 congressmen, two senators, every major Republican presidential candidate and two sitting governors have asked Holder to step down over the Operation Fast and Furious scandal.
Additionally, 75 House members have signed on to a House resolution calling for a vote of “no confidence” in Holder as attorney general. Between the two lists, there are 86 in the House who disapprove of Holder continuing to lead the DOJ.
Walsh said Holder’s comments appear to be a small-scale preview of the 2012 election season when Obama “will do anything to get re-elected.”
“This is so despicable, because what they’re doing is they’re trying real early now to lay down the ground rules for his re-election,” Walsh said. “This time around, the American people are not going to put up with it. We can criticize this president based on the job he’s done — I don’t care what his skin color is.”
“He is going to say, because he did this during the last election, and the media is going to enable him to get away with it, that any time we criticize him, it’s because of his race,” Walsh added. “For Eric Holder to take that same line right now is absolutely ridiculous and to me, it’s just more fodder proving that he needs to resign.”
White House spokesman Eric Schultz confirmed that he received The Daily Caller’s questions about whether President Obama agrees with Holder’s characterization of his critics as racists. Schultz promised to answer the question on Monday, but he had not responded at press time.
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In an interview Monday with POLITICO, Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter said he’s seriously considering a White House bid and will decide within the next two weeks.
McCotter argued that the current crop of GOP candidates simply isn’t making the case about how to confront what he described as the existential threats facing the country.
“I think the majority of the Republican electorate isn’t happy with the choices they’ve got and want to take a look at new people,” he said.
McCotter said his party must address four major issues: “The challenge of globalization, the war for freedom against terrorists, the rise of Communist China and whether moral relativism erodes a nation built on self-evident truth.”
But what makes a little-known four-term House member who gave up his own leadership position think he can enter the campaign in June and be a viable contender for the nomination?
McCotter said the revolution in communication and media has made it easier for aspiring politicians who don’t have the sort of name identification or personal wealth that traditionally determined who could mount a national campaign.
“It’s easier to get your message out today, and people will take a look at it – and if they like it, maybe they vote for you,” he said.
Pressed further, the Michigander quipped: “I’m from Detroit – we live to prove the doubters wrong.”
If anything, McCotter, 45, is known among political insiders for such wit – along with a love for rock music and his chops on the guitar. He’s a member of a band – The Second Amendments – comprised of a bipartisan group of House members. At a congressional picnic in 2006, President George W. Bush memorably deemed him “that rock and roll dude.”
But he’s also developed something of a cult following on the right as an unapologetic conservative who can quote Russell Kirk as easily as he can Robert Plant. (McCotter weaved Led Zeppelin lyrics into a House floor speech earlier this year.)
Frequent appearances on Fox’s late-night show “Red Eye” and Dennis Miller’s radio program also have built up his fan base in the right-leaning media, particularly among Republicans who, like him, came of age in the 1980s.
“There’s no one I’d like to see more at a debate than McCotter,” gushed conservative Web impresario Andrew Breitbart. “This is a guy that’s blunt, sarcastic, pop-culture-savvy, constitutionally sound and an authentic voice.”
Breitbart predicted: “I think that the American people would be won over by him.”
There have been whispers about the possibility of a McCotter run, but the extent of his plotting is little-known.
He has quietly reached out to potential campaign attorneys and early-state Republicans and counts longtime GOP communications guru Mark Corallo and Eric Ueland, a former chief of staff to Bill Frist, as informal advisers.
If he does run, McCotter, a Twitter enthusiast, will try to harness the Internet, and he’s considering hiring a conservative new media firm to help boost online fundraising potential. One of the new media consultants to his congressional campaign is Andrew Hemingway, who heads the tea-party-leaning Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire.
On Capitol Hill, though, the possibility of a McCotter campaign is being greeted with a mix of puzzlement and speculation about what he’s really after.
The same words tend to come up when congressional Republican aides are asked about McCotter, who favors old-style suit vests: “weird,” “strange,” “odd.”
In an effort to save taxpayer money, he sought last year to eliminate his position in the GOP leadership – head of the Policy Committee – and wound up ceding the job to another member.
With no obvious leadership position or committee gavel available, some Republicans believe that he’s bored in the House and looking for attention – a Michele Bachmann in a three-piece suit. He’s had enough time on his hands to pen a 256-page book, “Seize Freedom: American Truths and Renewal in a Chaotic Age,” that was published earlier this year.
But McCotter notes that he passed on a run next year against Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and wasn’t simply trying to raise his profile in case he’s redistricted out of his current House seat.
“There are easier things to do [than run for president],” he said.
On the charge of eccentricity, McCotter pleaded guilty – but said it’s a matter of perspective.
“Here in Washington, I’m quirky,” he said. “That’s a compliment, because it means I didn’t assimilate with the D.C. Beltway mind-set.”
His enthusiasts prefer to focus on a different set of attributes.
“He’s Midwestern, Catholic, opposed TARP, is a mainstream Republican on fiscal and social issues and has been working on a fairly innovative Social Security modernization plan,” said a source familiar with McCotter’s thinking. “He’s also one of the few candidates who has been engaged on foreign policy issues.”
McCotter is already eyeing that vote against the bank bailout in 2008 – perhaps the closest thing there is to a tea party litmus test – as an issue he’ll hold up should he get in the race.
Asked what separates him from the candidates already in the race, he quickly retorts: “I led the fight against the Wall Street bailout because I thought it was fundamentally unjust.”
Coming from hard-hit Michigan, McCotter also takes a harder line against China, suggesting that Beijing is in “indirect warfare with us” and prescribing a “constructive containment policy.”
He also said bold solutions were needed to address the country’s fiscal situation – “not simply balancing the budget.”
He declined to give details but said he was going to introduce a comprehensive Social Security reform bill in the coming weeks. He called Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal “a good base” but said he wanted to do even more to bolster the supply side of health care.
He said he’s no protectionist but also noted that “free trade as a panacea has not proven to be the case.” As for reviving the economy, he proposed across-the-board tax cuts for businesses.
McCotter has a keen interest in foreign affairs but defies easy categorization.
He spoke out earlier this year in defense of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, noting that the former dictator was a loyal American ally.
“America must stand with her ally Egypt to preserve an imperfect government capable of reform,” McCotter said at the time of the unrest.
“How’s that turning out now?” he said of the country’s post-revolution tumult. “The tragedy there is that the kids who led the revolution are going to be undercut.”
He said he would not have intervened in Libya and bemoaned the “mission creep” taking place there.
But he said he wouldn’t draw down American troops in Afghanistan until “circumstances on the ground allow it.”
McCotter sounded enthused about the prospect of running but said he sympathized with those Republicans who’ve recently opted out of running.
“I understand how difficult it is,” he said, noting that he’d be “a decided underdog.”
Yet some of his friends suggest he also would liven up the race.
Corallo offered a preview when asked if he was talking to McCotter about a presidential bid.
“I’m talking to McCotter about a lot of things – the economy, China, the war on terror, Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr (or Starkey, as he was known offstage), spending, taxes, gas prices, crazy Supreme Court justices who release 46,000 convicts, [Friedrich] Hayek, the Kirks (Russell and James Tiberius), TARP, Son of TARP and a host of other things on which we find ourselves in agreement,” Corallo quipped.
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