Sen. James Inhofe says the GOP could impeach Obama over Benghazi 'cover up' (Staff file photo)
WASHINGTON — A senior U.S. senator says Republicans could impeach President Barack Obama over what he is calling a high-level cover up of the administration’s handling of the deadly Benghazi attacks.
Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., on a nationally syndicated radio show Thursday accused Obama of overseeing “the most egregious cover up in American history” to avoid potential damage on Election Day.
As more details about the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, emerge, Inhofe said “people may be starting to use the ‘I word’ ” before long.
The host of the show, Rusty Humphries, then asked: “The ‘I word’ meaning impeachment.” Inhofe replied: “Yeah.”
Republicans on Capitol Hill allege Obama and his top national security aides knew before the two-pronged attack that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans was over that militants linked to al-Qaida were responsible. GOP lawmakers and pundits say there is proof the president and his aides collaborated on a decision to withhold that information in public statements immediately after the attack.
The reason? Obama was in the homestretch of a re-election campaign, and a major plank of his argument for a second term was a severely weakened al-Qaida.
“If people thought his Middle East policy was a failure,” that could have altered the results of the November 2012 presidential election, Inhofe said.
“They didn’t want it to come out at that time,” Inhofe said, referring to Obama and his aides. “Clearly, by definition, a cover up.”
Inhofe and other Republicans also are charging Obama and his administration with covering up decisions they made to not deploy U.S. military assets nor an armed State Department fast-response team during the attack.
During a highly publicized hearing on Wednesday, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., demanded the Obama administration provide more information, and send witnesses to testify before congressional panels, so lawmakers and the public get a clear picture of what happened at Benghazi on Sept. 11, and to explain which US officials made specific decisions before, during and after the attack.
Republicans have been pressing the White House for months about the deadly Benghazi attack. As other issues moved to the forefront of the congressional agenda in recent months, Benghazi became a back-burner issue.
That changed this week, with even some Republican leaders who mostly had remained on the sidelines of the fight over the issue weighing in.
“We learned that on Sept. 12 ... a senior State Department official emailed her superiors to relay that she had told the Libyan ambassador the attack was conducted by Islamic terrorists,” House Speaker Rep. John Boehner told reporters Thursday.
“The State Department would not allow our committees to keep copies of this email when it was reviewed,” Boehner said. “I would call on the president to order the State Department to release this email so the American people can see it.
“Last November, the president said he was ‘happy to cooperate in any way Congress wants.’ This is his chance,” Boehner said. “The truth shouldn’t be hidden from the American people behind a White House firewall. Four Americans lost their lives in this terrorist attack. Congress will continue to investigate this issue, using all of the resources at our disposal.”
Inhofe boldly declared the Benghazi issue would surpass the Reagan administration’s Iran-Contra scandal and the Nixon administration’s Watergate scandal to become “the greatest cover up in American history.”
A White House spokeswoman declined to comment.