Secretary of State John Kerry is giving the run-around to House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), and Issa has had enough. After issuing a subpoena for Kerry to appear on May 21 to testify about the Benghazi massacre, then delaying the appearance so the State Department could find a more amenable date for Kerry, Issa fired off a second subpoena on Thursday, claiming that the State Department was using “slippery tactics” to enable Kerry to avoid testifying about the Benghazi, Libya, attack.
Issa had been trying to reach an agreement with the State Department about documents related to the attack. He released a statement, saying:
I lifted the subpoena requiring Secretary Kerry to testify on May 21 because the State Department made reasonable arguments for an accommodation and told our Committee they were seeking a suitable alternative date for his testimony on a voluntary basis. But soon after I lifted the subpoena, the State Department backtracked — stating publicly that we should accept a “more appropriate witness” and refusing to commit to making Secretary Kerry available. With this State Department’s slippery tactics, it’s no wonder our friends in the world are losing faith in us and our adversaries doubt our credibility. The State Department had discussed May 29 as a possible alternative date, and that’s when Secretary Kerry will be obligated to appear — further accommodation will not be possible. Absent an assertion of executive privilege, the State Department has a legal obligation to fully and completely comply.
The State Department fired back. On Thursday, spokesperson Marie Harf released a statement:
This is not the way legitimate and responsible oversight is conducted, and it’s a departure from the days when Rep. Issa himself once lamented that a Secretary of State should not be distracted from the work of national security to testify at the barrel of a subpoena. 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.
House GOP members have their own probe into Benghazi now. On Thursday, they created the Select Committee on Benghazi, which was requested by Speaker John Boehner and will be headed by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC). Issa addressed the issue of another investigation into Bengahzi by stating, “Five committees brought together information from throughout various parts of government, but now the investigation primarily, I believe, will move to the cover-up, which included direct White House involvement.”
Meanwhile, Democrats seized on the creation of the new committee to try to split the GOP. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) bleated:
Chairman Issa’s subpoena of Secretary Kerry calls into question the Republicans’ stated purpose of the Select Committee on Benghazi. 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. … Rather than focus on the priorities of the American people — creating jobs, strengthening the middle class, and passing immigration reform — House Republicans continue to try to exploit the tragic events in Benghazi with one grossly partisan investigation after another.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) chimed in: “I don’t know if this is Chairman Issa’s attempt to reinsert himself into this investigation after the Speaker removed him, but this looks more and more like the ‘sideshow’ and ‘circus’ Speaker Boehner said he would not tolerate.”