House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Friday accepted Secretary of State John Kerry’s offer to testify in June on the 2012 Benghazi attack that killed four Americans.
Issa’s announcement came after the State Department said Kerry was too busy to comply with Issa’s subpoena demanding that Kerry testify next week, on May 29. State sent Issa a letter asking him to drop his subpoena and allow Kerry to testify some time in June.
Issa indicated he agreed to drop the subpoena for May 29, in large part because Kerry was offering to testify himself instead of sending a lower-level official.
“As the State Department has moved away from pushing the Committee to accept an alternative witness, Chairman Issa accepted the Secretary’s offer to testify on June 12,” Issa said. “The Committee looks forward to his appearance.”
Kerry’s testimony raises immediate questions about whether Kerry will ever have to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which the House formed earlier this month. State’s letter to Issa said State does not believe Kerry should have to testify twice on the matter, but a spokeswoman for Gowdy indicated that Gowdy may yet ask Kerry to testify if needed.
“The Benghazi Select Committee will talk to all material witnesses as many times as necessary to discover all relevant facts and answer all relevant questions in a manner consistent with fair practice and respectful of the witnesses’ other responsibilities,” said Amanda Duvall.
Earlier in the day, Deputy State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters that Kerry will be in Washington on May 29, the day Issa demanded that Kerry testify. However, Harf said Kerry has “a lot on his plate” that day.
“He has a whole world of pressing diplomatic issues on his plate,” she explained further.
Issa has issued two subpoenas demanding Kerry’s testimony in May. He originally issued a subpoena for Kerry to testify on May 21, but Kerry already had plans to be in Mexico on that date. Issa and State then began negotiating a new date for Kerry, and Issa dropped his subpoena.
However, Issa then issued a new subpoena requiring Kerry’s testimony on May 29, after State started indicating that a lower-level State official might appear before the committee. Issa demanded the new date after accusing State of employing “slippery” tactics to keep Kerry away from Congress.
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