With no limits on what it could examine or when it should finish, the special House panel set up to conduct a thorough investigation of the deadly attack at Benghazi kicked off its public hearings Wednesday morning in Washington.

The atmosphere was subdued, almost laid back as the head of the Select Committee, South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy — often characterized as a “bulldog” determined to sink his prosecutorial teeth into the scandal — opened the proceedings with a low-key, sober, solemn statement.


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You can watch a portion of Gowdy’s statesman-like remarks by clicking on the video above.

After months of closed-door sessions, the House panel kicks off its public presentations only hours after a potentially significant new development — a State Department insider’s allegation that aides to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hid from scrutiny documents potentially embarrassing to Ms. Clinton.