WASHINGTON — Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis told a Senate Committee adviser that House Speaker Paul Ryan “put the leash” on the House Select Committee on Benghazi’s investigation into Hillary Clinton.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, who headed the Commission, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, both confirmed to the adviser that Ryan effectively shut the investigation down, Big League Politics has exclusively learned.
This revelation has big implications for the “Russia” investigation dogging President Donald Trump’s administration. Gowdy took over as one of the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee probe into alleged Trump-Russia campaign collusion after California Rep. Devin Nunes removed himself from the investigation. Nunes angered anti-Trumpers for backing up some of the White House’s claims on surveillance and Russia. The media targeted Nunes for briefing the White House on some of his findings before he announced them publicly. Ryan ultimately decided that Nunes should be taken off the investigation, saying that Nunes’ problems “would be a distraction for the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian interference in our election.” Some Republican congressmen are already bashing Nunes’ claims that the Trump transition team was surveilled.
Gowdy became one of the leaders of the investigation, along with Reps. Mike Conaway and Tom Rooney. But Gowdy’s history of taking orders from Ryan does not bode well for Trump, considering that Ryan is a fierce Trump critic behind the scenes with a very different agenda than the president.
Ryan‘s maneuverings in the Benghazi case occurred at the same time that he was shoring up support to take over from John Boehner as House Speaker.
Gowdy‘s interrogation of Clinton before the Commission was massively hyped but produced little actual results, instead allowing Clinton to come off calm, composed, and prepared while sitting for eleven hours of testimony. Rolling Stone called the hearing “Republicans’ 11-Hour Gift To Hillary Clinton.“
Clinton’s testimony occurred in October 2015, before Paul Ryan‘s rival Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee or even won a single primary or caucus.
The hearing also indirectly led to the political downfall of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who said during a Sean Hannity interview that the purpose of the Commission was to affect Clinton’s poll numbers. McCarthy’s bid to take over as House Speaker collapsed.
Ryan became the preferred House Speaker pick, gaining outgoing Speaker John Boehner’s support, in October 2015, winning majority support on the House Freedom Caucus in a closed-door meeting on October 21.
Clinton testified before Gowdy on October 22, one day later.
Gowdy enjoyed a shortlived stint as a conservative hero on Darrell Issa’s House Oversight Committee, but during the Republican primary he threw in with the neoconservative wing of the party against Donald Trump. Gowdy endorsed Marco Rubio, who has been one of the most forceful anti-Trump Republican senators on the Russia issue.