U.S.

Kerry Subpoenaed As GOP Ramps Up Benghazi Investigation

The subpoena follows the publishing of a declassified e-mail from the White House that raises questions about the administration's Benghazi response.

Kerry Subpoenaed As GOP Ramps Up Benghazi Investigation
U.S. Department of State

House Republicans made two bold moves Friday to seek more information from the Obama administration about its response to the September 2012 attack in Benghazi which led to the deaths of four Americans. 

"Republican Congressman Darrell Issa said he has subpoenaed the Secretary of State John Kerry to testify on the Benghazi attack." (Via CNN)

In a letter to Kerry, Issa expressed his dissatisfaction with the information provided by the State Department in the "more than 19 months since the attack." (Via U.S. House of Representatives)

He writes, "The State Department's response to the congressional investigation of the Benghazi attack has shown a disturbing disregard for the Department's legal obligations to Congress. ... Compliance with the subpoena for documents is not a game."

Almost simultaneously, House Speaker John Boehner announced that the House will vote to create a special committee to investigate the Benghazi attack and, in his words, "provide the necessary accountability, and ensure justice is finally served." Fox News explains what this will mean. (Via Twitter / @SpeakerBoehner)

"A select committee is different than a regular congressional investigation because it brings together members from all of the relevant committees with oversight. ... And the witnesses are subject to lengthy depositions." 

Politico writes, "By convening a select committee and demanding that Kerry testify, House Republicans are assuring that scrutiny of the White House over Benghazi ... will remain strong in the months ahead of the midterm elections."

The moves to ramp up pressure on the Obama administration comes just days after conservative group Judicial Watch published a newly declassified email from White House adviser Ben Rhodes. 

Judicial Watch reports the e-mail was meant as a "PREP" for U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice. Its goal, along with other talking points, was "To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy."

Add that to testimony from an ex-Air Force general who said more should have been done to rescue the Americans killed in the Benghazi attack. 

Robert Lovell: "Four individuals died. Sir, obviously we did not respond in time to get there."

Rep. Jason Chaffetz: "Could we have?"

Robert Lovell: "We may have been able to, but we'll never know." (Via C-SPAN)

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, released a statement calling Issa's subpoena "unprecedented" and that it continues "a trend of generating unnecessary conflict for the sake of publicity." (Via U.S. House Representative Elijah Cummings)

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf added: "It's highly unusual for a subpoena to be issued before there’s even an official invitation for testimony. I think everyone can make their own judgments about that." (Via U.S. Department of State)

Issa has called for Kerry to testify at a hearing before the House Oversight Committee May 21.