House Democrats have not yet made a decision about whether to participate in a GOP-led investigation of Benghazi, saying that they’re waiting for further discussions with Republican leaders about the rules of the panel.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the committee a "political stunt" on Friday but acknowledged that her caucus is divided on whether or not to boycott it.
'We really don't know yet what the Speaker's going to say, so let's find that out," she said, adding that she believes the new committee has only been created because the previous face of the GOP inquiry, Rep. Darrell Issa of California, has become "damaged goods."
Democratic leaders were set to meet Friday afternoon to discuss their response.
Top Democrat Rep. Steve Israel told reporters earlier Friday that he'd like to see the party participate if the panel amounts to "a truly balanced and bipartisan inquiry."
"But if the response by the Republicans is ‘our way or the highway,’ I don't know why we would want to participate," he added. "We are hopeful that the Speaker will respond to our requests, return our phone calls and work out a process that makes this fair and balanced, that makes this an inquiry, not a Republican campaign strategy."
Another Democrat, Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina called the panel a "kangaroo court."
"I don't know that you do yourself a lot of good volunteering to participate in the kangaroo court," he said. "If you know it's a kangaroo court why would you validate it or give any credibility to it?"
The makeup of the committee proposed by Republicans would include just five Democrats to seven Republicans, and only chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina would be able to issue subpoenas. Democrats say that structure is unfair and that it underscores the political motivations of the panel’s creation.
Boehner named the seven GOP lawmakers on the select committee on Friday afternoon, saying he has "confidence that they will lead a serious, fact-based inquiry."
A spokesman for Boehner told NBC News that Republicans have already responded to Pelosi's concerns, and that "the ball is in their court."
Democrats met early Friday to discuss their response to the special select committee, which many in their party have described as a partisan attempt to tarnish the president and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. While some in the president’s party have proposed boycotting the committee altogether, others worry that Republican claims will go unchecked without a Democratic voice to counter them.
A resolution to create the Benghazi panel passed Thursday night 232-186, with just seven Democrats voting in support.
On Friday, Pelosi said that the families of two of the four victims of the 2012 attacks have contacted her to say "please don't take us down this path again."
First published May 9 2014, 7:09 AM