Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 10, 2016

State Noncommittal on Kerry Honoring House Subpoena

The State Department isn't saying whether Kerry plans to testify May 29. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The State Department isn’t saying whether Kerry plans to testify May 29. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The State Department would not confirm Thursday night whether John Kerry will appear at a new Benghazi hearing scheduled May 29 by House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, who hours earlier issued another subpoena for the secretary of state.

State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said discussions with the House panel are ongoing, but that no agreement had been reached.

“This is now the second time in 14 days that the Secretary of State has been subpoenaed while traveling overseas representing the United States on urgent national security issues. This time the subpoena was accompanied by a headline-grabbing, highly political tweet attacking the integrity of the State Department itself,” Harf said in a statement.

“This is not the way legitimate and responsible oversight is conducted, and it’s a departure from the days when Rep. Issa himself once lamented that a Secretary of State should not be distracted from the work of national security to testify at the barrel of a subpoena. As we have said, and we reiterate today, we will continue to work with the Committee to resolve their request, but we have not made arrangements for a hearing date, and we hope to explore with them whether there are witnesses better suited to answer their questions and meet their needs for oversight.”

After putting an earlier subpoena on hold because Kerry had a previously scheduled diplomatic trip to Mexico, Issa on Thursday issued a new subpoena for the secretary of state to testify May 29 on the 2012 Benghazi, Libya, attack.

“I lifted the subpoena requiring Secretary Kerry to testify on May 21 because the State Department made reasonable arguments for an accommodation and told our Committee they were seeking a suitable alternative date for his testimony on a voluntary basis,” Issa said in a statement issued Thursday. “But soon after I lifted the subpoena, the State Department back tracked — stating publicly that we should accept ‘a more appropriate witness’ and refusing to commit to making Secretary Kerry available.”

“With this State Department’s slippery tactics, it’s no wonder our friends in the world are losing faith in us and our adversaries doubt our credibility. The State Department had discussed May 29 as a possible alternative date and that’s when Secretary Kerry will be obligated to appear — further accommodation will not be possible. Absent an assertion of executive privilege, the State Department has a legal obligation to fully and completely comply.”

Issa excerpted much of the above statement in a series of tweets on Thursday afternoon, though it’s not clear which specific tweet drew Harf’s ire.

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, has created a new special select committee, headed by Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., to look into the handling of the 2012 attack on diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans.



Speaker: Lack of Democrats Wouldn’t Impede Benghazi Committee’s Work

Boehner Satisfies Many Constituencies With Benghazi Panel Picks (Video)


  • Nick10

    Ambassador Stevens regular quarters were in Tripoli, Lybia. Benghazi was remote from Tripoli where our embassy was located and where they lived safely. Benghazi was rarely visited but it was attacked that night for the killings. Regardless of who in the Secretary of State office could have made it safe there from the rebels. This is what we should know.

    The protection Central Intelligence Agency determines whether Benghazi was safe or not. In this case the Central Intelligence Agency made a terrible mistake and our people were killed. Some also blame it on Al-Queda.

  • Jon McCasper

    While some Western success has been due to capital, the liberty that unleashes its citizens’ ingenuity and courage has been more important.

  • gardenSalsa64

    The liberty school realizes that those quacks who exploit democratic processes for their own purposes may destroy liberty and prosperity.

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