WASHINGTON — It is September 11th, and Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar is lounging in the trunk of his scheduler’s blue Mercedes mini-SUV as it speeds along to the State Department.
We’ve attempted to load six people into a five-seater car, and the congressman has decided that the best way to do that is to sit in the trunk.
“Duck down. Cop,” says his scheduler, and Gosar leans back a little farther.
Our party of two staffers, three reporters, and one congressman stuck in the trunk is on the way to Foggy Bottom so the congressman can deliver a letter about the Benghazi victims to a State official on the one-year anniversary of the attacks that killed four Americans at the U.S. Consulate there.
“A year’s gone by and we have no further answers,” Gosar told us, saying it was “outrageous.”
So he wanted to deliver a letter to try to move the process along a little faster. In the letter, he asks for “Assistance in expediting the collection and reporting of information,” and requested the answer to several questions.
Gosar is a member of the House oversight committee, which has an ongoing investigation into the attacks. But he was taking this particular foray on his own, something he said made the committee “a little bit nervous.”
“The thing about it is, I’m one of these people that if you’re not getting anywhere, you’ve got to change it up, and you’ve got to ask more questions, and that means that if individuals have to start taking this into their hands and start trying to get different results from a different methodology, you’ve got to,” Gosar explains on the car ride home. “I’m results-oriented. I was always a solutions guy.”
As we drive to the State Department, Gosar discusses some of the town halls he held in his home district over the August recess. He tells us he has three rules: he’ll talk to anyone, but they have to “be civil”; if someone wants to “rant and rave,” the first thing he’ll do is ask them what their solution is. If they don’t have one, he won’t bother to answer their question. If they do have one, he’ll bring it up for a group discussion and ask other participants to weigh in. He asks that during that time, people listen to their neighbors — “you might learn something.”
All that talking takes time. Sometimes, he says, he’ll literally “wear people out” with these events.
When we arrive at the State Department, Gosar hops out of the trunk, signs the letter, and heads over to his pre-scheduled appointment with a deputy assistant secretary. His press secretary goes with him, and his scheduler drives the car around.
We reporters awkwardly linger in front of the State Department, with the guards occasionally glancing over. After one reporter gets in a couple verbal scuffles with one of the guards, and his supervisor arrives, we head back to the car, which is parked a couple of blocks away at the corner of E Street and 23rd Street NW, out of the line of vision of any guards or cops.
“I figured it would be better to load him in the trunk up here,” the scheduler says.