2014-05-18T051559Z_1_CBREA4H0EN100_RTROPTP_2_USA-MEXICO-GUNS

Courtroom theatrics a hallmark of Republican leading Benghazi probe

Rep. Gowdy speaks during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee session at Capitol Hill in WashingtonBy Susan Cornwell WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Republican who will lead an investigation of the 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic quarters in Benghazi was known for courtroom theatrics in his time as a prosecutor, portending dramatic hearings on an issue that already has strained partisan civility in Washington. Republicans hope to gain political traction before congressional elections in November by accusing the White House of muddying the facts to protect President Barack Obama after the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans were killed in the attacks by Islamic militants. Democrats have not said whether they will take any seats on the Republican-majority special committee, saying the new probe – following several other congressional investigations on Benghazi – is also aimed at damaging former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chances if she runs for president in 2016. Representative Trey Gowdy, the 49-year-old from South Carolina chosen by House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner to chair the panel, is a Christian conservative elected to Congress in 2010 on the wave of the Tea Party movement.

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