Oversight Issues Secretary Kerry New Subpoena for Testimony

Published: May 15, 2014

WASHINGTON – Today, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., announced the issuance of a new subpoena for testimony to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to appear at a May 29, 2014, hearing on his Department’s failure to comply with three subpoenas for documents issued as part of the investigation into the deadly Benghazi terrorist attacks of September 11, 2012. The Committee had previously issued Secretary Kerry a subpoena for testimony on May 21, but Rep. Issa agreed to accommodate the State Department’s request for an alternative hearing date after it raised a conflict with the Secretary’s official visit to Mexico and engaged with the Committee in an effort to obtain his testimony voluntarily. Chairman Issa issued the following statement on the issuance of the new subpoena:

“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 back tracked – 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.”

On April 17, 2014, the State Department sent a letter informing the Committee that it was producing previously unreleased e-mails subject to prior requests and subpoenas. These previously withheld e-mails, which were apparently only turned over as the result of a judge’s ruling in a FOIA case, showed that White House official Ben Rhodes coordinated talking points for then-Ambassador Susan Rice which encouraged an emphasis that the attack was “rooted in an Internet video, and not a failure of policy.”