Deputy Spokesman Patrick Ventrell announced on Tuesday that the House committee meeting next week to discuss security failures that led up to the attack on the U.S. Special Mission in Libya has not reached out to the State Department to supply a witness. “Let me stress this. The committee has not contacted our Department directly with a request that any State Department employee appear at next week’s hearing, and we have not heard directly from any current State Department employee who wishes to come forward and testify at next week’s hearing,” Ventrell said.
QUESTION: Just going back to the storm over this testimony —
MR. VENTRELL: Yeah.
QUESTION: — are you aware if anyone from the Department has been invited to appear at this hearing next week? I mean, other than – if any official to —
MR. VENTRELL: Let me stress this. Right.
QUESTION: — represent the Administration, not a whistleblower-type?
MR. VENTRELL: Yeah. Let me stress this. The committee has not contacted our Department directly with a request that any State Department employee appear at next week’s hearing, and we have not heard directly from any current State Department employee who wishes to come forward and testify at next week’s hearing.
QUESTION: But you don’t necessarily need to. I mean, they can go forward and do it on their own without telling you, right?
MR. VENTRELL: I can’t speak to communication between the Hill and an employee directly.
MR. VENTRELL: But in terms of them coming to us directly, that hasn’t happened.
QUESTION: Right. Okay. Well, do you think it would be appropriate for the committee to invite someone from the State Department to be at the hearing to testify, to present the —
MR. VENTRELL: That’s their prerogative to make invitations.
QUESTION: Well, I understand that. But do you think it would be appropriate if they were going to – if they’re going to have a hearing at which —
MR. VENTRELL: Part of the problem is cooperation has to go both ways, and so we don’t have a lot of information about what this is about. So it’s hard for us to say one way or another, given that we don’t – you hear this mysterious thing about there’s going to be testimony of someone. We don’t know who they are, so we’d need more information to assess that. And let me reiterate again what the Secretary said earlier this week, which is that we’ve got to demythologize this, we’ve got to depoliticize this. You know he’s appointed his chief of staff to be a liaison directly with the Hill. And so we’re open to having a process where we can look at some of these new requests and do so directly with the Hill. The Secretary said he was open to that. But that’s how we’ll deal with new or outstanding requests for information.
QUESTION: But you have not gotten any, that you’re – have you gotten any more – have you gotten any new – specifically related to this hearing next week, have you gotten more requests for information?
MR. VENTRELL: As of 30 minutes ago when I came down, I wasn’t aware of any. And I checked right before coming down.
QUESTION: And no one from the committee has been in touch with David Wade?
MR. VENTRELL: I mean, communication between the Hill and the Secretary’s chief of staff continues.
QUESTION: On this hearing?
MR. VENTRELL: Congressional correspondence continues. But in terms of this specific hearing, no, we haven’t been in contact – nobody in the Department.
QUESTION: How would you characterize that?
MR. VENTRELL: I mean, again, I said this – we really need information to go both ways. And we’re willing to cooperate and have a cooperative attitude with the Hill, but that’s got to go both ways.