House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) announced Friday that he has subpoenaed Secretary of State John Kerry to appear before members of Congress to testify on the deadly 2012 Benghazi attacks.
Secretary of State John Kerry looks down as he adjusts the microphones before speaking about the situation with Ukraine and Russia from the State Department in Washington, Thursday, April 24, 2014 (AP)
"Today I announced a subpoena requiring Secretary Kerry to testify at a public ... hearing on May 21," Issa said in a tweet.
The State Department's "response to congressional investigation of Benghazi has shown a disturbing disregard for its legal obligations to Congress," Issa added. "Compliance with a subpoena for documents is not a game. The State Dept has failed to meet its legal obligations."
Issa said he issued the subpoena after he had concluded that the State Department had failed to cooperate with Congress' ongoing investigation of the White House's handling of the deadly terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of four Americans.
"Secretary Kerry must answer questions about the [State Department's] response to the congressional investigation," the California congressman said.
Issa said the State Department, which was under the control of Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2012 when the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi was attacked, is "not entitled" to withhold sensitive material that could prove "embarrassing" or implicate senior White House officials.
Citing testimony offered Thursday by retired Brigadier Gen. Robert Lovell, the House Oversight Committee chairman noted that U.S. military forces were never asked by the White House "to go save Americans in Benghazi during the attack."
"I expect Sec Kerry to identify docs the Dept is withholding, has delayed, or has simply avoided searching for," Issa added in a tweet.
Here's Issa's letter to Kerry
This post has been updated.
The ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), criticized the move, saying Issa should give Kerry more time to respond to Congress’ requests for State Department documents.
“These actions are not a responsible approach to congressional oversight, they continue a trend of generating unnecessary conflict for the sake of publicity, and they are shockingly disrespectful to the Secretary of State,” Cummings said, referring to the subpoena.
Cummings and Issa have in the past butted heads over Congress' investigation of the IRS scandal, the California Republican suggesting at one point suggesting that the Maryland Democrat helped inspire the improper targeting of conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
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