Rep. Jason Chaffetz was more than happy to help continue the Republican witch hunt on Benghazi this Sunday, but as Josh Israel over at Think Progress took note of, when pressed by Chris Wallace about his claims that there are witnesses from the State Department who are being threatened by their bosses, he couldn't name any examples.
Asked about a claim by a witness’s lawyer that whistle-blowers had been blocked from testifying (a claim rejected by the Department of State), Chaffetz said that “more than one” witness has indeed been “suppressed” by the Obama administration. [...]
Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) quickly debunked his colleague: “There’ve been two attorneys involved here, the only reason they haven’t received information is that they haven’t asked for it yet… there has not been a request for documents from these attorneys to the State Department.”
The only “retaliation,” Lynch noted, was that one of the witnesses wants a reassignment and a promotion and feels he’s being retaliated against because has not yet gotten the promotion.
As they reminded their readers and we have here as well, there are plenty of reasons why anything Victoria Toensing, who is representing some of these potential witnesses, attaches her name to, and who has been peddling conspiracy theories for months now, ought to be looked at with more than just a healthy dose of skepticism.
Full transcript below the fold.
WALLACE: OK. Let's get to this question because this has been one of the charges, that there'd been threats, intimidation, and threats of retaliation. So, let's discuss that.
This week, a lawyer for one of the witnesses said that the State Department has threatened officials who wanted to testify. State responded and said they don't know of anybody who has requested to testify. Let's watch that exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICTORIA TOENSING, ATTY FOR STATE DEPT EMPLOYEE: I'm not talking generally. I'm talking specifically about Benghazi, that people have been threatened, and not just the State Department. People have been threatened at the CIA. PATRICK VENTRELL, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We repeatedly have this person saying that they had a whistleblower who's been held back from telling their story, and we're not aware of this individual, anyone who's asking to tell their story.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Congressman Chaffetz, has the Obama administration blocked potential witnesses from testifying or not.
CHAFFETZ: Absolutely and more than one. We've asked for the non-classified version of how do these people get an attorney that has a degree in classified information and they still haven't given us that. No. There are people out there that want to testify that have been suppressed.
WALLACE: But you hear the State Department just say nobody, neither a lawyer nor a witness, has requested to testify?
CHAFFETZ: Because they're scared to death of what the State Department is doing to them. And that's what -- look, we're the other branch of government. They're supposed to be able to come to Congress and be able to share this type of information. That has not happened, because the administration has suppressed them (ph).
We have a person who was injured eight months ago, who's still in the hospital. They changed his name on the medical records.
This is a story of the State Department doing things that haven't been in any other case.
WALLACE: Are you saying -- and, again, I want to bring in Congressman Lynch. Tell me, a direct threat -- a direct act of intimidation against a potential witness?
CHAFFETZ: Yes, and I think we'll probably --
WALLACE: Tell me why.
LYNCH: Completely false, completely false.
WALLACE: Let me -- before he -- go ahead. Tell me what's been said.
CHAFFETZ: Yes, there are people -- more than one -- that have felt intimidation from the State Department. They can't even go through the process of getting an attorney to be able to represent them with a degree of classified information that they have.
WALLACE: Congressman Lynch, your turn.
LYNCH: The only reason that the attorneys -- and there have been two attorneys involved here -- the only reason they haven't received information is they haven't asked for it yet. They haven't asked for it. There has not been a request for these documents from these attorneys to the State Department. The State Department is more than willing to cooperate, but they haven't asked for this.
The only retaliation I've heard of here is that one of these witnesses wants a reassignment and promotion. He hasn't gotten the promotion that he wanted, and he's saying that that's somehow retaliation. So, you know, hasn't got it yet. It's actually in the process.
That's the -- that's the level of threats of intimidation? He hasn't got the promotion he wants yet?