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Kevin McCarthy Becomes Benghazi Committee's First Casualty

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 8/10/2015 Amanda Terkel
ATHENA IMAGE © Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images ATHENA IMAGE

WASHINGTON -- After 17 months and more than $4.5 million, the House Select Committee on Benghazi has finally cost someone their job.

It wasn't Hillary Clinton, and it wasn't even a Democrat. It was House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who was supposed to be a shoo-in to replace John Boehner as the next speaker of the House.

McCarthy shocked Capitol Hill when he announced he was withdrawing his name from consideration Thursday, the day that Republicans were supposed to choose their nominee. 

"Over the last week it has become clear to me that our Conference is deeply divided and needs to unite behind one leader," he said in a statement. "I have always put this Conference ahead of myself. Therefore I am withdrawing my candidacy for Speaker of the House."

What has happened in the last week is that McCarthy has been fighting off criticism from all sides about his remark that implied the work of the taxpayer-funded Benghazi committee is political -- something that Republicans have long insisted is not true. 

"Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee, [and] what are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she's untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened," he said on Fox News Sept. 29. 

Since that time, McCarthy has been apologizing nonstop and insisting that he misspoke. Democrats, meanwhile, have had a field day seizing on his comments for political advantage

When reporters asked McCarthy Thursday whether his gaffe was the reason he withdrew, McCarthy replied, "Well, that wasn't helpful."

"I mean, I could have said it much better," he added. "But this Benghazi committee was only created for one purpose: to find the truth on behalf of the families for the four dead Americans. I should not be a distraction from that, and that's part of the decision as well."

Boehner will continue to serve as speaker until Congress elects a new leader at a later date.

Clinton is set to testify before the Benghazi Committee on Oct. 22. Unlike McCarthy, she is still in the running for higher office. 

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