On MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports on Tuesday, Washington Post reporter Karen Tumulty proclaimed that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s comments about the Benghazi investigation had granted Hillary Clinton immunity from scandal: “...the Kevin McCarthy thing has been not only a political gift but it has been sort of a ‘get out of jail free’ card for her to sort of abandon the kind of semi-contrite position she had been taking before, and to come out on offense.”
She added: “...it sort of proves what the Clintons have been contending, which is that this whole thing is just, you know, part of a pattern of attacks on the Clintons that have gone back a quarter century...”
Prior to Tumulty’s commentary, host Andrea Mitchell similarly labeled McCarthy’s comments a “gift” for Clinton and touted a new campaign ad put out by the Democratic front-runner on the topic.
The ad in question actually included a soundbite of Mitchell herself hyping McCarthy’s remarks, which the journalist quickly disavowed: “And I just want to point out they have used a little bit of my voice, they’ve used a little bit of Savannah Guthrie. NBC News in no way authorized them to use any of our material and had no – we had no idea this was coming.”
Later on the show, Mitchell interviewed Congressman Jason Chaffetz, a contender against McCarthy for Speaker of the House, and touted the controversy as a boost for Clinton: “But look at the way basically McCarthy's comment has rearmed, reinvigorated Hillary Clinton.”
After playing a clip of Clinton bashing the GOP during a town hall event on Monday’s NBC Today, Mitchell followed: “Congressman, she's now on offense. Hasn't what Kevin McCarthy said given her the way to try to discredit the committee when she testifies?”
Chaffetz dismissed the notion:
What Trey Gowdy has done is literally dozens of transcribed interviews with people that were never, never interviewed by the Accountability Review Board. I think Secretary Clinton and others thought that they had just put a conclusion on this. But how can you get to the full and end story of Benghazi and what happened or didn't happen there without actually speaking with the secretary herself? And so I'm pleased that Secretary Clinton is planning to come before the committee on October 22nd.
Here is a portion of Mitchell’s October 6 exchange with Chaffetz:
12:45 PM ET
ANDREA MITCHELL: But aren't you doing this because Kevin McCarthy basically, you know, stepped in it, made that big mistake by unwittingly revealing the political motivation behind the Benghazi Committee? Would you have done this had he not done that?
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ [R-UT]: No, that's a side issue. It was a mistake. Kevin McCarthy has admitted as much. It's not normal that he does this. It's not a fair and accurate representation of what we're really doing. I have been to Libya twice. I was the first person to send a letter to Secretary Clinton asking what happened. A lot of us have worked on the Benghazi issue for a long time. And if not for the stonewalling by the State Department, the Department of Defense, as well as the White House, we could have gotten this investigation done a long time ago but they have stalled, they still have not provided all the documents to the United States Congress and what Trey Gowdy and the select committee are doing is the right way to get to the truth. In this nation, we are self-critical. That's what separates us from most nations. And we shouldn't be afraid to expose the truth. And that's what the committee's trying to do.
MITCHELL: But look at the way basically McCarthy's comment has rearmed, reinvigorated Hillary Clinton. Watch her with Savannah Guthrie just yesterday.
HILLARY CLINTON: ...after me for political reasons. The death of four Americans in Benghazi. I knew the ambassador. I identified him. I asked him to go there. I asked the President to nominate him. There have been seven investigations led mostly by Republicans in the Congress and they were nonpartisan and they reached conclusions that first of all, I and nobody did anything wrong, but there were changes we could make. This committee was set up, as they have admitted, for the purpose of making a partisan political issue out of the deaths of four Americans. I would have never done that and if I were president and there were Republicans or Democrats who were thinking about that, I would have done everything to shut it down.
MITCHELL Congressman, she's now on offense. Hasn't what Kevin McCarthy said given her the way to try to discredit the committee when she testifies?
CHAFFETZ: Well, she can try to do that but I was glad that she admitted that the investigations we had done prior were nonpartisan. You know, for a long time we heard that they were just partisan attacks, but for her to admit that what we did in the Oversight and Government Reform Committee for instance was nonpartisan I think is a more accurate representation. But we didn't get to the final stage and that's why Speaker Boehner, rightfully so, formed this select committee, consolidated the work of various committees into one central thing. And what Trey Gowdy has done is literally dozens of transcribed interviews with people that were never, never interviewed by the Accountability Review Board. I think Secretary Clinton and others thought that they had just put a conclusion on this. But how can you get to the full and end story of Benghazi and what happened or didn't happen there without actually speaking with the secretary herself? And so I'm pleased that Secretary Clinton is planning to come before the committee on October 22nd. And she has a chance to tell her story and members on both sides of the aisle have a chance to ask her questions.