Benghazi Betrayal: Republican Frontrunner Accused of Shielding Clinton

a katz /
a katz /

Businessman Sandy Pensler is leveling accusations against former Rep. Mike Rogers, his rival in the Republican primary for Michigan’s vacant Senate seat. Pensler is alleging that Rogers shielded former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the House’s inquiry into the Benghazi attack.

The Pensler campaign aired an advertisement on Monday asserting that Rogers, who led the investigation into the 2012 terrorist assault as the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, aligned himself with Clinton following the attack on the American Consulate and a separate CIA compound by militants.

The committee conducted a two-year inquiry and found no evidence supporting the claims of a State Department-issued “stand down” order. This was the main focus of the investigation into the attack that resulted in the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and two others.

The 30-second ad prominently features former Marine Mark Geist, who suffered significant injuries during the Benghazi attack. Geist details the extent of his injuries, noting he had over 25 bullet wounds and his arm was almost severed. According to Geist, he and others provided truthful testimonies about the events of the attack. However, he asserts that Mike Rogers, who was overseeing the investigation, dismissed their accounts. Geist believes Rogers had already decided on a narrative that aligned with Hillary Clinton’s position, leading him to label the testimonies of Geist and his comrades as liars.

Geist further accuses Rogers of wanting to bury the truth about Benghazi and suggests that Rogers’ actions were an attempt to protect Hillary Clinton and diminish the gravity of what had transpired during the attack.

Rogers’s campaign vehemently denied the claims made in the ad, marking the second time Pensler has aired a Benghazi-related attack ad against Rogers.

The communications director for Rogers’s campaign, Chris Gustafson, strongly rejected the accusations. He argued that resorting to falsehoods to win votes makes Pensler undeserving of support. Gustafson criticized Pensler’s ads as cheap and out of touch. He suggested that this negative approach explains Pensler’s previous electoral defeats. Gustafson stated, “With cheap ads and wildly out of touch attempts to smear Mike, it’s no wonder Sandy has already been soundly defeated twice before.”

Gustafson emphasized that there is a reason behind President Trump’s endorsement of Mike Rogers. He pointed out that Rogers is the only candidate in the race who is discussing real solutions to the issues that matter most to Michigan families. According to Gustafson, Rogers’s focus on practical and impactful policies stands in stark contrast to Pensler’s negative campaign tactics.

Pensler’s move comes as Rogers leads in polls for the Aug. 6 primary, with support from former President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans’ campaign arm. The primary winner, which also includes former GOP congressman Justin Amash, is expected to face Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin in the general election.

Rogers, trailing Slotkin within the margin of error in recent polls, stands to benefit from a substantial financial injection from the National Republican Senatorial Committee for the party’s “Michigan field program” if he secures the primary victory. The Senate seat, vacated by retiring Sen. Debbie Stabenow, is crucial for Democrats to retain their Senate majority.

The Pensler ads mark the start of a significant ad campaign across broadcast, cable, and digital platforms. The first ad featured audio clips of Rogers dismissing claims from CIA contractors about the alleged “stand down” order during an interview with Michigan Information & Research Service. This prompted criticism from former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who endorsed Rogers, citing his work in uncovering Clinton’s failures.

While the Select Committee on Benghazi did not find professional wrongdoing, it did critique the Obama administration’s lack of preparedness. The investigation also brought to light Clinton’s use of a private email server, which faced months of Republican scrutiny.