It’s a good week for the mainstream media when it has a story with which to beat up on congressional Republicans, and a great week when it has two. This is a great week.
The first story is, of course, the House Republicans’ quest to attempt to find a new Speaker. For an indeterminate period, this may be the gift that keeps on giving.
The second story must also warm the heart of the MSM. A former staffer on the House Select Committee on Benghazi alleges that he was fired because he refused to target Hillary Clinton for political reasons. (The two stories are not entirely unrelated: Kevin McCarthy’s bid to become Speaker may have failed in part because of remarks he made about the impact of the Benghazi investigation on Hillary Clinton’s political prospects).
Whether the fired-staffer story will take hold remains to be seen. We don’t know enough about the facts pertaining to the discharge of the staffer, Maj. Bradley Podliska, an intelligence officer in the Air Force Reserve, fully to assess his case. However, the facts that have come out so far don’t seem to support Podliska’s claim.
For one thing, according to this report, Podliska initially claimed he was fired because he took leave from the committee to fulfill his military service obligations, not because of his alleged reluctance to go after Hillary. This allegation had the virtue of asserting illegal conduct of the most embarrassing kind. Who would have any respect for a committee whose mission is to get to the bottom of the killings of American personnel serving in a foreign land, but that balked at the military commitments of its own staffers?
But does Podliska’s initial claim have the virtue of being true? Not according to committee chairman Trey Gowdy. He says that Podliska’s request for leave for reserve duty was approved both times he requested it.
This doesn’t preclude the possibility he was fired because of his requests for leave. It’s possible that, although the requests were granted, they were resented to the point of provoking the discharge.
This seems unlikely, especially given that the committee’s top lawyer is former Judge Advocate General Dana Chipman, but that’s not my main point. My main point is that, at least according to reports, Podliska did not allege during a mediation session that his posture towards Clinton caused his discharge, as he almost surely would have done if he believed this was the cause.
One begins to suspect that Podliska may simply be fighting back against his discharge by leveling the most explosive allegations possible — first the committee’s alleged lack of respect for military service, then its alleged partisan lust for Hillary Clinton’s scalp. And if the first claim is concocted, the second one probably is too.
Gowdy provides additional information that, if true, further undercuts Podliska’s allegation that he was fired for not targeting Clinton. He says that of all of the interviews his people have conducted since news broke of Secretary Clinton’s email arrangement, only one half of one of them focused on her email arrangement. Gowdy adds:
The Benghazi Committee has now interviewed 44 new witnesses, including 7 eyewitnesses to the attacks never before interviewed, and recovered more than 50,000 pages of new documents. Approximately 5 percent of those are Secretary Clinton’s self-selected email records. I cannot say it any plainer than stating the facts, the Benghazi Committee is not focused on Secretary Clinton, and to the extent we have given any attention to Clinton, it is because she was Secretary of State at all relevant times covered by this Committee’s jurisdiction.
It’s possible, of course, to target Clinton without focusing on her emails and email arrangement, and Podliska apparently accuses the committee of being too focused on the State Department’s role in Benghazi, as compared to other agencies that may also be blameworthy. However, it seems likely that if Gowdy were focused on nailing Clinton rather than getting to the bottom of the Benghazi tragedy, he would be concentrating more than he says he is on the email side of things, since this seems to be her greatest vulnerability right now.
When an employee is fired for poor performance or poor judgment (as is alleged in the case of Podliska), it’s the easiest thing in the world to scream that something nefarious is going on. This is what keeps employment lawyers busy.
In some instances, something nefarious may actually have been at work, and it’s possible that this is one of those cases. Right now, based on the limited information I’ve seen, the case doesn’t have that feel, but let’s stay tuned.
I’m guessing that the anti-Republican MSM will.