House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said Friday that he will let Secretary of State John Kerry avoid testifying before his committee about the 2012 Benghazi attacks.
In a Friday release, Issa said he has agreed to drop his demand for Kerry's testimony in order to ensure Kerry can testify before the newly formed House Select Committee on Benghazi.
US Secretary of State John Kerry now will not have to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Benghazi. Republicans are hoping to save his testimony for the Select Comitttee on Benghazi. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB SAUL LOEB
Just last week, Kerry agreed to testify on June 12 in Issa's committee, but the State Department made it clear that Kerry shouldn't have to testify again in the select committee. Issa said he'd let Kerry off the hook in order to give the select committee priority when it comes to deposing Kerry.
But Issa wasn't happy about it, and slammed Kerry for his ongoing attempts to hide the truth about the attack and the administration's response to the attacks.
"Seeing Secretary Kerry and others, who have worked to obstruct critical oversight of Congress' investigations into Benghazi, attempt to use the upcoming June 12 hearing as a shield against the Select Committee tells me it's time to reassess," Issa said in a statement. "It's been disappointing to watch a long serving former Senator, like Secretary Kerry, squirm his way to what I'm doing today – releasing him from the upcoming hearing commitment he made only after we issued him a subpoena."
Issa added that neither he nor House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) anticipated how "opponents of congressional oversight would use this as an opportunity to distract from the Select Committee's effort."
Issa finally secured Kerry's testimony last week after issuing two subpoenas demanding that Kerry testify. Kerry twice rejected dates on which Issa insisted, but finally offered to meet June 12.
In the meantime, however, the House voted to approve the select committee, and the State Department said Kerry only wanted to appear once before Congress to talk about Benghazi.
Issa said he finally gave up the idea of having Kerry testify because the select committee represents the House's commitment to getting the truth about 2012 assault that left four Americans dead. He said the select committee won't be stopped by the State Department's attempt to stonewall Congress.
"It will conduct its investigation in the face of an all-hands-on-deck effort by defenders of the principal actors to further obscure the facts," Issa said.