The Trip That Wasn't: Dems Cry Foul Over Libya CODEL

Democrats allege 'deliberate' GOP plot excluded them from Libya trip

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A month after four Americans — including ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens — were killed at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, the Government Reform and Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa will hold a recess hearing to address concerns that the Obama Administration failed to respond appropriately to security threats in Benghazi.

But the hearing will not be a bipartisan one.

Democrats on the oversight committee say Republicans have completely shut them out of the investigation, failed to give them notice of an overseas trip to Libya, kept documents concealed, and delayed one witness from speaking to them.

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Issa has said publicly that the hearing has been pursued on a "bipartisan basis," but an internal Democratic memo obtained by U.S. News & World Report shows Democrats have had little input.

"The committee's investigation into the attack in Benghazi has been extremely partisan," the memo says, adding that the Republicans have made it difficult for the minority to interview witnesses or review documents.

"They have no right to conceal that information or those individuals from the minority," the memo said.

Minority members say that the trouble started when Issa sent an Oct. 2 letter to the State Department detailing what Democrats say were "unverified allegations" of security shortcomings in Libya without ever consulting Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings, the committee's ranking member. The initial letter detailed 13 cases where the ambassador was targeted by terrorists prior to the consulate attack.

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But Democrats on the committee say Issa has continued to keep them out of the loop. According to minority staff, Republicans have withheld documents and concealed one witness from minority questioning.

"Through the complaints they are making, they are expressing a sense that is categorically untrue," says Frederick Hill, a spokesman for Republicans on the oversight committee. "I think they are trying to make something out of nothing. They are trying to bring the discussion into the gutter."

Democrats are also livid over the Libya trip Republican members and staffers took without them. According to the memo, Issa and Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz organized a congressional delegation to Libya last week and didn't inform Democrats of the plan until 24 hours before they were scheduled to depart.

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"Due to the inadequate notice, no Democratic members or staff were able to join," the memo reads. "Since Department of Defense officials report that they were first contacted by Republican staff about this delegation [on Oct. 1] this appears to be a deliberate effort to exclude Democratic committee members from this."

Republicans on the oversight committee say the trip was last minute, and that Democrats were informed of the trip as soon as it was scheduled.

"[They] are too lazy to make the CODEL and their spin on this is that they didn't have adequate time," Hill said.

Lauren Fox is a political reporter for U.S. News and World Report. She can be reached at lfox@usnews.com or you can follow her on Twitter @foxreports.