Former Ambassador Thomas Pickering, who led up the embattled Accountability Review Board largely hand-picked by the State Department and tasked with getting to the bottom of American failures in Benghazi, gave a deposition behind closed doors on Tuesday. According to witnesses, he said that he considered his role on the ARB “a debt of honor in memory of Ambassador Stevens.” The deposition was given before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), whom the State Department allegedly attempted to stonewall during his visit to Libya, said that there were “a lot more questions” that had to be asked, adding, “It’s good to have the dialogue. It’s disappointing that you had to use a subpoena to get him here.”
Important witnesses to events in Benghazi have cast aspersions on the ARB report, saying it was incomplete and had not interviewed key figures including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Pickering refused to answer questions from the press.
Democrats, who quickly leaked proceedings to allies like Politico, said that Republicans in the hearing quizzed Pickering on why Clinton had not been interviewed. “There’s no basis for believing [any accusations about the ARB], except someone charged it,” sneered Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA). Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) stated, “Our Republican colleagues did not like the findings so they are now in search of a scandal.”
Pickering is set to testify publicly in the next two weeks.