Despite Select Committee, Issa Pushes Forward With His Own Benghazi Investigation

The House Oversight chairman issued another subpoena Thursday to Secretary of State John Kerry.

House Oversight And Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa questions members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission during a hearing December 14, 2011 in Washington, DC. In October the four commissioners sent a letter White House Chief of Staff William Daley expressing "grave concerns" that NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko's deficiencies as a leader could compromise nuclear safety.
National Journal
Sarah Mimms
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Sarah Mimms
May 15, 2014, 10:57 a.m.

Just days after the House voted to im­pan­el a se­lect com­mit­tee to in­vest­ig­ate the Sept. 11, 2012, at­tacks on the U.S. Con­su­late in Benghazi, House Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form Com­mit­tee Chair­man Dar­rell Issa signaled that he will con­tin­ue his own sep­ar­ate in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to the at­tacks.

The Cali­for­nia Re­pub­lic­an on Thursday is­sued an­oth­er sub­poena to Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry, call­ing on the former sen­at­or — who was serving in the Sen­ate at the time of the at­tack — to ap­pear be­fore the Over­sight Com­mit­tee on May 29. Earli­er this month, the same day that House Speak­er John Boehner an­nounced his in­ten­tion to form a se­lect com­mit­tee on the mat­ter, Issa is­sued a sub­poena re­quir­ing Kerry to ap­pear be­fore the com­mit­tee on May 21, but changed the date due to a con­flict with Kerry’s sched­uled trip to Mex­ico that week.

“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,” Issa said in a state­ment. “Ab­sent an as­ser­tion of ex­ec­ut­ive priv­ilege, the State De­part­ment has a leg­al ob­lig­a­tion to fully and com­pletely com­ply.”

Boehner said at the time that he sup­ports Issa’s sub­poena, and spokes­man Mi­chael Steel con­firmed Thursday that that re­mains the case.

Issa said he is call­ing on Kerry to an­swer ques­tions about why the State De­part­ment did not hand over to the com­mit­tee cop­ies of emails out­lining the White House’s in­volve­ment in shap­ing talk­ing points around the Benghazi at­tack, but did re­lease them later un­der a Free­dom of In­form­a­tion Act re­quest.

Those ques­tions are likely to play a ma­jor role in the se­lect com­mit­tee’s in­quiry as well, and Kerry could find him­self testi­fy­ing on the is­sue be­fore both groups.

Over­sight Com­mit­tee rank­ing mem­ber Eli­jah Cum­mings, D-Md., ex­pressed out­rage Thursday that Issa was mov­ing for­ward with the Benghazi in­vest­ig­a­tion. “Just one week after Speak­er Boehner said he wanted a single se­lect com­mit­tee con­duct­ing this in­vest­ig­a­tion, Chair­man Issa is­sued a new sub­poena today for Sec­ret­ary Kerry to testi­fy be­fore the Over­sight Com­mit­tee. 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,” Cum­mings said in a state­ment, re­fer­ring to Boehner’s com­ments on the how the se­lect com­mit­tee should con­duct it­self.

Boehner has said re­peatedly that his de­cision to form a se­lect com­mit­tee chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., has noth­ing to do with Issa’s lead­er­ship or the Over­sight Com­mit­tee’s in­vest­ig­a­tion.

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