The State Department reacted angrily, saying it was the second
time Kerry had been subpoenaed while on foreign travel, and noted
the announcement had been made via Twitter. "This is not the way
legitimate and responsible oversight is conducted," said State
Department spokeswoman Marie Harf.
House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee
Chairman Darrell Issa had earlier issued a subpoena for Kerry to
appear on May 21, but lifted that request after the State Department
said it would conflict with Kerry's travel schedule. The subpoena
issued on Thursday would require him to appear on May 29.
"Absent an assertion of executive privilege, the State Department
has a legal obligation to fully and completely comply," Issa said in
However, Harf's statement indicated the State Department was not
keen on the idea. "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," Harf said.
Democrats said the subpoena called into question the Republicans'
announcement earlier this month of a select committee on Benghazi.
It is supposed to bring together the earlier probes by other
committees, including Issa's, into one place. Issa was not named to
the select panel, which will be led by Republican Representative
"The Select Committee is a sign of no confidence in Issa, just as
Issa's action today is a sign of a lack of confidence in the Select
Committee," Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.
[to top of second column]
The Democrats have not decided whether to take part in the select
committee to investigate the September 11, 2012, attacks by
militants on U.S. facilities in Benghazi that left U.S. Ambassador
Chris Stevens and three others dead.
Issa has said he wants Kerry to answer questions about the State
Department's response to the investigation, although Kerry was not
secretary of state at the time the Benghazi attacks happened;
Hillary Clinton was still in charge. She has testified to two
committees of Congress about the attacks, but not Issa's.
Republicans accuse the White House of creating a political
smokescreen in the aftermath of Benghazi to protect President Barack
Obama's 2012 re-election. Democrats accuse Republicans of trying to
get political advantage in a congressional election year, and of
trying to harm Hillary Clinton's chances of running for president in
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Eric Walsh)
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