Republicans are being urged to keep their cool as Congress pursues its latest investigation of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s missing emails and any connection to security lapses in the terrorist attack in Benghazi.
WASHINGTON — As Congress pursues its latest investigation of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s missing emails and the role they may have played in the security lapses in the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, not every Republican is delighted by the prospect of dragging her to Capitol Hill for a skewering.
Some see danger.
The Clintons have proved adept over the years at turning allegations of misdeeds in their favor. Voter uneasiness with their conduct has, in the past, yielded to voter distaste for the zealousness with which Republicans exploited it.
There are still memories of President Clinton’s approval rating soaring above 64 percent within months of his impeachment by the House in 1998. Voters punished Republicans in midterm elections that year.
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“Republicans have to be cautious and not look too overeager, politically, on this one thing,” said Katie Gage, a GOP strategist focused on messaging that candidates might use against Hillary Clinton as she runs for president.
“Trying to turn this into a political issue and putting it all at her feet will allow her an opportunity to seem like she is being bullied,” Gage said of the Benghazi investigation.
The Clinton team appears to be doing everything it can to get Republicans overheated.
Last week, a request by the House Select Committee on Benghazi for an interview with Clinton in a closed-door hearing was cast by her aides as a setup, timed so Republicans could leak convenient parts of her testimony in the heat of the 2016 election.
Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta characterized news that the committee may not wrap up its work until next year — election year — as “the latest example in a broad, concerted effort by Republicans and their allies to launch false attacks” on Clinton.
There have already been multiple government investigations into the 2012 attacks in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. The reports did not support allegations from some Republicans that supposed mismanagement by Clinton precipitated the tragedy.
But Republicans are focusing on Benghazi anew after Clinton acknowledged earlier this year that she had conducted all of her government business on a personal email account while secretary of state, handpicking which messages to preserve for the public record. She erased other messages on the account, which was run from a server in her home.
Those details are tempting to Republicans eager to embroil Clinton in a major scandal. And on the campaign trail, the situation is providing plenty of red meat for GOP contenders.
But back in Washington, Republican lawmakers are being urged to keep their cool.
Nobody wants to relive those days in the 1990s when a top Republican insisted that Clinton aide Vince Foster, whose death was ruled a suicide, was actually murdered. Then-Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., suggested he disproved law enforcement’s finding that Foster shot himself in the head by launching his own forensics investigation, during which he shot a bullet into a melon.
As Clinton’s email scandal emerged, Republican media strategist Rick Wilson cautioned Republicans not to blow it. “Try for once to play the long game and help Hillary Clinton take on water,” he wrote in Politico last month. “They want you to jack the volume to 11.”
The chairman of the Benghazi committee, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., seems to be heeding the advice.
“I have made no presumption of right- or wrongdoing on anyone’s part with respect to the Benghazi terrorist attacks,” he said Thursday.