Issa subpoenas Kerry for testimony on Benghazi emails
By Erik Wasson - 05/02/14 10:47 AM EDT
The House Oversight Committee on Friday issued a subpoena to force Secretary of State John Kerry to testify on new Benghazi emails.
Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is requiring Kerry to testify on May 21 at a public hearing.
"The State Department's response to the congressional investigation of the Benghazi attack has shown a disturbing disregard for the Department's legal obligations to Congress," Issa said in a letter to Kerry.
This week the group Judicial Watch released an email through a Freedom of Information Act request that shows White House official Ben Rhodes coordinating talking points for then-Ambassador Susan Rice before her Sunday talk show appearances the weekend after the attack in Libya.
In the email, Rhodes said Rice should “underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”
Issa expressed outrage that the Rhodes email exchange was not handed over to Congress under a previous subpoena.
“Compliance with a subpoena for documents is not a game. Because your Department is failing to meet its legal obligations, I am issuing a new subpoena to compel you to appear before the Committee to answer questions about your agency's response to the congressional investigation of the Benghazi attack,” Issa said.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday that the controversial email was "explicitly about the broader areas, separate from the attack on Benghazi."
Carney said he did not know why the State Department included the email in a Freedom of Information Act suit regarding Benghazi documents, but said the email was not initially provided to congressional investigators because it did not specifically address the attack.
Carney went on to charge that Republicans went with an effort "to claim a conspiracy when they haven’t been able to find one."
Asked Thursday if Issa's criticisms specifically were politically motivated, Carney shrugged.
"I don’t know, you guys be the judge," he said.
Republicans have long alleged that the administration falsely blamed the attack on a spontaneous response to an anti-Islamic video, rather than identifying it as the coordinated terrorist attack that it later turned out to be.
The GOP alleges that the White House was trying to spin the attack in order to make President Obama’s record on terrorism appear to be more successful.
The White House said this week that the Rhodes email does not suggest a cover-up.