State Dept. May Not Comply with Congressional Subpoena on Benghazi

Spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday that the State Department has not decided if it will comply with a congressional subpoena demanding documents related to the crafting of Benghazi talking points for Susan Rice.

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) sent a five-page letter on Tuesday explaining why he as chair of the Oversight Committee issued the subpoena and what documents he expects to be delivered by June 7th. 

Issa is requiring the release of more emails between top Administration officials regarding Benghazi talking points given to Ambassador Susan Rice before her appearance on Sunday talk shows the weekend after the Benghazi attack. The Congressman claims that the emails previously given to the House committee were "incomplete" and noted these documents were released to the press five days before they were given to Congress.

Asked about the State Department's response to the letter, Psaki praised the "unprecedented degree of cooperation with Congress" on the issue of Benghazi. "But of course, we remain committed, as we have consistently been, to working with Congress," Psaki added. The Spokeswoman said that the Department is "taking stock" and "determining the next appropriate steps."

"You haven't yet decided whether or not the State Department will be providing the documents that are in the subpoena?" a reporter asked Psaki. "That's correct," she responded.

Read the transcript and watch the video below:

QUESTION: New topic? Yesterday, Chairman Issa sent a letter to Secretary Kerry and issued a subpoena for documents relating to the development of the talking points used by Susan Rice and communications between 10 current and former State officials. Do you have a reaction? Has he responded? And does the Department intend on complying with the – I believe it's June 7th deadline for supplying these documents?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me just remind everyone since given the opportunity that we have demonstrated unprecedented – an unprecedented degree of cooperation with Congress on the issue of Benghazi, engaging now in nearly 40 hearings, briefing members of staff, and – members and staff – and sharing over 25,000 pages of documents with committees.

On this specific issue, you'll recall that a hundred pages of documents on the talking points were released just weeks ago. They were inclusive of the emails around this issue, and from our perspective, the CIA-led interagency process, as we now know through which these talking points were developed, has been thoroughly addressed publicly.

But of course, we remain committed, as we have consistently been, to working with Congress, and we are taking stock of this recent subpoena and determining the next appropriate steps.

QUESTION: Since a hundred pages of emails were actually sent to them and everybody observed it, and in fact, there was a lot of backtracking on initial content and so on, what else – what is being subpoenaed?

MS. PSAKI: I encourage you to ask Chairman Issa that question.

QUESTION: Has the Secretary responded?

MS. PSAKI: No. I just said we're determining the next appropriate steps.

QUESTION: So just a quick follow-up to that just for clarity. So when you say you're determining the next appropriate steps, you haven't yet decided whether or not the State Department will be providing the documents that are in the subpoena?

MS. PSAKI: That's correct. But we have provided, just as a reminder, of course, a hundred pages of documents on the talking points that this is regarding.

Follow Meredith on Twitter @meredithdake.


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