May 2nd, 2014
11:25 AM ET
3 months ago

Kerry subpoenaed to testify over Benghazi documents

(CNN) - House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa announced Friday he has subpoenaed Secretary of State John Kerry to testify about the terror attack in Benghazi.

The California Republican called on Kerry to appear at a May 21 hearing.

Republicans have accused the Obama administration of withholding documents from Congress that were previously subpoenaed.

Related: Benghazi – government cover-up or right-wing conspiracy theory?

The terror attack on the American diplomatic compound in eastern Libya in September 2012 killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

"The State Department's response to the congressional investigation of the Benghazi attack has shown a disturbing disregard for the department's legal obligations to Congress," Issa wrote in a letter to Kerry.

"Compliance with a subpoena for documents is not a game. Because your department is failing to meet its legal obligations, I am issuing a new subpoena to compel you to appear before the committee to answer questions about your agency's response to the congressional investigation of the Benghazi attack."

The State Department said Kerry was traveling in Africa and it was not clear if he was aware of the subpoena.

Spokeswoman Marie Harf called the move "highly unusual," considering an invitation for testimony is usually extended before a subpoena.

"We are surprised that in the first instance they resorted to a subpoena, given we've been cooperating all along with the committee, and did not reach out before they did so," she said.

On Tuesday, the conservative group Judicial Watch made public documents it received in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

One of the documents was a previously undisclosed email on September 14, 2012, from Ben Rhodes, a national security official specializing in communications, that listed talking points about protests that had erupted at U.S. embassies and compounds in the Muslim world.

Among the goals listed in the Rhodes email was to "underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy." The intelligence community later said the assault was a result of a coordinated terrorist attack and not the protests.

The existence of the Rhodes email is new, and that provides Republicans with a fresh front in their attacks on the administration over Benghazi. However, the messaging of the Rhodes email is the same as previously released documents.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, blasted the call to compel Kerry's testimony.

"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," the Maryland Democrat said in a statement.

Disclosure of the Rhodes email prompted House Speaker John Boehner on Friday to announce that he will form a select committee to investigate Benghazi. Key Republican senators appealed to Majority Leader Harry Reid to work with Boehner on forming a joint panel.

CNN's Deirdre Walsh, Ashley Killough and Tom Cohen contributed to this report.


Filed under: Darrell Issa • Elijah Cummings • John Kerry
soundoff (373 Responses)
  1. Guest

    if Caroline Kennedy had been the ambassador in Benghazi, gazillions of troops would have been sent and 2 yrs later we would have JUSTICE.

    May 2, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  2. sly

    "I would like to know who decided not to aid these Americans."
    ============
    Well documented: Republican blood is all over Benghazi. The GOP refused 3 requests by President Obama to increase Libyan Embassy security, and they refused.

    Republicans killed 4 Americans in Benghazi. The GOP told our embassy workers: "Screw you. We wont keep you safe".

    May 2, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  3. Jojola

    Issa and his lynch mob are pathetic. They all know there was no cover up but do know this will whip their base into a frenzy. It's like Pablo's dog experiment, you ring a bell and the dog will start salivating but in this case, the bell is Benghazi and the dogs are right wing nuts. Republicans have rejected ninety-nine percent of Americans and decided to play to only one percent (which includes the mega rich – who pad their pockets and fund their campaigns and uneducated illiterate – who voice their ignorance by spewing hate while waving a flag in one hand and a gun in the other, a.k.a. tea party.) The rest of Americans who would love to have better jobs (or a job, period), affordable health care, wage increased to above poverty level and a cleaner and safer environment are of no value to Republicans. Instead of trying to appeal to the masses, they've selected to reject, repeal and repeal again!

    May 2, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  4. Denise

    Keep Benghazi front and center, please, please do! Keep ACA repeal front and center! The problem with the right are the folks they have out their as their spokespeople. Linda Trip, Ken Porn Starr, Dan Watermelon Burton, Dick Cheney, Sara Palin, Ted Cruz and now Issa. Maybe Burton could shoot up another melon to find the truth once and for all!

    May 2, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  5. sly

    "Obama, where is the JUSTICE you promised."
    ====
    Totally agree: President Obama should put all the House Republicans in jail for helping murder 4 Americans.

    3 times President Obama requested the House Republicans increase Libyan Embassy security.
    3 times Republicans said "Screw the Americans overseas. Let them defend themselves."

    And they rejected the bill, 3 times. GOP- you have American blood all over your hands ... again!

    May 2, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "Well documented: Republican blood is all over Benghazi. The GOP refused 3 requests by President Obama to increase Libyan Embassy security, and they refused."

    Indeed, but because the GOP/Teatrolls are being the loudest about this and have control over what the investigation is "investigating," the MSM will never talk about that. EVER.

    May 2, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  7. dnokc

    Why should poor Mr. Kerry take the heat for this? Hillary did it! "What does it matter anyway?"

    May 2, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  8. Robert

    Ahh
    Mr. Issa
    Finding yet again a way to waste the peoples time and money.
    He shows us the true meaning of the word charlatan.
    Caring nothing about finding the truth about anything
    Using the deaths of those in Benghazi for political gain.

    May 2, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  9. Standing_up

    This was not about the "video" that all you people are referring to that caused the murders. Our wonderful Administration has alresdy been caught in several lies that show this to be untrue along with testimonies from Military officials that know better. Stop the Obama azz kissing and realize the truth, it was a planned act of murder!! Put Hillary on the stand and forget about Kerry. She has gotten off way to easy on this issue and you Liberal nuts want her in charge of our Country???

    May 2, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  10. Jim Rome

    What difference does it make if we sent troops that would arrive hours later, anyway? She's right. Either the troops are there to begin with, or they're not. We're not team America world police.

    May 2, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    sly
    3 times President Obama requested the House Republicans increase Libyan Embassy security.
    3 times Republicans said "Screw the Americans overseas. Let them defend themselves."
    -------------------------------------------------Succintly and eloquently stated sly, per usual.

    May 2, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  12. 1776usa2016

    Issa,

    How about we subpoena all the documents related to why you GOP guys refused to approve the administrations request for money to protect our embassies?

    .

    May 2, 2014 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  13. Tony Torres

    Issa is a moron!! I am sure that the man is not stupid,self-made millionaire,etc…so it has to be an act to draw attention on non issues. They want to resurrect something that has been hashed and rehashed. The investigations discovered flaws in several policies(that hopefully have been implemented) there was plenty of blame to throw around but as far as I have been able to discern,being a layman, it was not possible to send assets in time,more personnel,etc.
    What a waste of taxpayers funds! What a sorry lot we have running this country and blame both parties but at least the Dems seem like a party for the normal person and GOP majority of looney tunes that are distracted by any light.
    WE must try and voted this selfish jerks out!

    May 2, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  14. Larry L

    Will Issa investigate the House Republican's refusal to fund the additional security forces requested for the region?

    May 2, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  15. Me

    Mr. President where were you on the night our people were under attack? Why did you not go to the situation room? Why did you still go to Las Vegas the next day?

    May 2, 2014 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  16. ShouldBeAware

    Republicans denied requests to increase security before the attacks. Democrats did not respond appropriately to the attack. Both sides purposefully acted in a way to politicize the death of these Americans. Both parties must go.

    May 2, 2014 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  17. sly

    "hidden beneath the GOP campaign is the fact that House Republicans voted to cut nearly $300 million from the U.S. embassy security budget. When asked if he voted to cut the funds this morning on CNN, Republican Representative Chaffetz said, “Absolutely“: O’BRIEN: Is it true that you voted to cut the funding for embassy security?
    CHAFFETZ: Absolutely. Look, we have to make priorities and choices in this country. We have — think about this — 15,000 contractors in Iraq. We have more than 6,000 contractors, private army there for President Obama in Baghdad.
    =======================
    Republicans have American blood on their hands ...

    May 2, 2014 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  18. Flotsam

    I'm a Republican but amazed the that the GOP in the House remains fixated on this. There has been so many useless meetings, reports and findings. Nothing has come out of this, it had NO impact on the last election and Americans have moved on. If it wern't for Fox no one would care. and I hate to say this but if Chris Stevens knew so much about what was happening why didn't he realize he was going to put himself in harm's way. He has to share some blame here and ultimately he paid the most.

    May 2, 2014 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  19. Me

    Hillary was in charge of securing the embassies, Dominican mama

    May 2, 2014 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  20. Okanis

    Spokeswoman Marie Harf called the move "highly unusual," considering an invitation for testimony is usually extended before a subpoena.
    "We are surprised that in the first instance they resorted to a subpoena, given we've been cooperating all along with the committee, and did not reach out before they did so," she said.
    Really now, if you were cooperating so well with congress, then why did the State Dept. not provide the documents that were subpoenaed earlier? Did the need time to doctor them up or what?

    May 2, 2014 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  21. jcvet33

    Lying always gets you in trouble.

    May 2, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  22. 21k

    appropriate still picture in the video: flames. since issa was reported to have committed arson as part of insurance fraud. did they ever really get to the bottom of that or is he still obstructing?

    May 2, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  23. peterz

    Subpoena to fight for justice for the late ambassador or it was a disrespectful election stamp on his copse. A sign of shameless?

    May 2, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  24. Matt

    Who CARESSS!?!? 4 Americans were killed in a country in the middle east that just had its government toppled, and where A LOT of the population hates westerns. I don't know how anyone is surprised by this and why its even still a topic. About 100 times that number will die in this country alone today and I don't see people up in arms about that. Wah wah wah Bengazhhhhiiiii!

    May 2, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  25. skkyye

    Did any of you read the article or did you see the article title and ran right for the comments. Kerry is being brought in to testify, not about what happened, but why they ( State Dept.) is not complying with the subpoena for documents.
    Also the mother of one of the men killed is still seeking answers, don't we owe it to her. She gave her son for this country.

    May 2, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
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