By Donna Brazile
If you look up "kangaroo court" in the dictionary, you'll find a big old picture of Rep. Trey Gowdy. Why? Because he is leading a one-man, partisan show trial of harassment against Hillary Clinton. And it's high time someone called him out for it.
Gowdy is the chairman of the so-called House Select Committee on Benghazi -- a committee tasked explicitly with investigating the 2012 tragedy in the Libyan city of Benghazi. This is not the first time Benghazi has been investigated. There have been seven different investigations and they have not found a scrap of evidence of any wrongdoing by Clinton, as alleged by Republicans. They have issued nine reports in total. (If you're interested in reviewing the reports, visit democrats.benghazi.house.gov/previous-investigations/previous-reports.)
But last year House Speaker John Boehner gave Gowdy an unlimited budget of taxpayer dollars to give it another shot.
After more than a year of investigations, and over $4 million spent, what has Gowdy found? Not one bit of evidence that shows any wrongdoing by Clinton, or as a senior Democrat on Capitol Hill explained, "not a drop of evidence to call into question the original findings of the independent Accountability Review Board." There's no evidence to support Republican allegations against Clinton. Not a single word of novel testimony. Nothing.
So, instead, Gowdy has turned his taxpayer-funded firepower toward the subject of Hillary Clinton's email. Let's be clear: Gowdy's not interested in the preservation of government emails generally. He's certainly not interested in the fact that Colin Powell used his own private email as secretary of state and never turned over a single message -- or that Karl Rove and others in the Bush White House deleted millions of emails, including those sent on a private server run by the Republican National Committee.
Nope, the Republican Gowdy is focused exclusively on what Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton did with her emails. What does this have to do with Benghazi? I'll let Gowdy speak for himself. This weekend, on "Fox News Sunday," he admitted: "Well, probably not much of anything."
My goodness, as a great man once said, this whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen. Let's look at the facts -- facts that the media (in particular The New York Times) have studiously avoided reporting.
One: Hillary Clinton did not send or receive emails containing classified information from her personal email account.
Two: Her email practices were both legal and completely permissible by government regulations at the time.
Three: She was not the first secretary of state to use personal email for official purposes. Again, Powell used his own private email for official business and deleted all of those official work emails without providing a copy of any of them to the State Department.
There is no fire here, folks. There's no smoke, either. There's only a set of cold, scandal-free, hard facts, which are being abused by a taxpayer-funded Republican joyride and being ignored by reporters who should know better.
It's been well over 470 days since the authorization of the Select Committee on Benghazi. According to House sources, that "now surpasses the length of time of the Church Committee (which investigated overseas intelligence activites in the wake of Watergate). The select committee has already lasted longer than numerous other investigations, including the investigations of Hurricane Katrina, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the assassination of President Kennedy and Iran-Contra." That's amazing.
"House Republicans established the Select Committee on Benghazi more than a year and three months ago with a blank check, no time limits and no rules, and they have now spent more than $4 million in taxpayer funds," said the committee's ranking Democratic member, Elijah Cummings. "This investigation is not about learning pertinent facts about Benghazi or improving the security of our embassies. It is about spending taxpayer funds on political attacks against Secretary Clinton."
Clinton, rightly, is focused on the issues that actually matter to the American people. The people of Iowa and New Hampshire aren't asking Hillary Clinton about her emails. They're asking her about how she'll grow the middle class and make college affordable again, how she'll curb the rising tide of climate change and continue to rebuild America's reputation around the world. She's answering these questions, and the people are listening. Is the media?
At the end of the day, it's been a huge distraction. Clinton's campaign has to handle the wave of questions about her judgment and trustworthiness. But despite the best efforts of partisan foot soldiers like Trey Gowdy to leverage the August news doldrums to peddle lies, Clinton is still connecting with American voters every day. A new CNN poll has her beating out possible Republican foes by between 6 and 10 percentage points.
Amen to that -- and if you haven't seen it yet, Trey, I'll email it to you.