(CNN) – After a war of words – and a subpoena – the co-chair of a review board that investigated last September's attack in Benghazi, Libya, has agreed to be interviewed privately by congressional investigators.
Thomas Pickering, a former ambassador, will voluntarily appear for a transcribed interview conducted by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the panel's chairman said Wednesday. It's the latest development in the dispute over how and where to examine the review board's report, which Republicans regard as inadequate.
"I appreciate his decision to cooperate on a voluntary basis with our Committee's investigation of the Benghazi attack," Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican, wrote in a statement. "Our investigation includes an examination of criticisms career State Department officials have made about the [Accountability Review Board] report being 'incomplete' and letting senior officials 'off the hook.'"
Pickering said previously he would prefer to testify in a public hearing of the House Oversight Committee rather than submit to a private interview, but Issa demanded the meeting behind closed doors before any open session. After Pickering refused to be privately interviewed, Issa issued a subpoena for the former ambassador.
Republicans, including Issa, have questioned the Benghazi Accountability Review Board's findings on the attack last September at an American diplomatic post in Benghazi, which left four Americans dead.
The report, issued late last year, found "systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies" at the State Department in the lead-up to the attack in Benghazi. As a result, four State Department officials were disciplined immediately after the report's release. One resigned, while three others were placed on administrative leave and relieved of their duties.
But critics say the report did not go far enough, and did not include accounts from key witnesses to the attack who were on the ground as it happened.
The disparagement heated up earlier this month at a House Oversight Committee hearing featuring several witnesses who said they weren't interviewed by the review board.
Neither Pickering nor his co-chair, Admiral Mike Mullen, appeared at that hearing, leading to a bitter back-and-forth over whether they were invited to testify. The following weekend on NBC's "Meet the Press," Issa said he would request a deposition from Pickering and Mullen on how their panel reached its conclusions.
"Ultimately, if they got it right, we can put this issue to rest," Issa said. "We believe it was insufficient. We believe it's likely they did not interview all the people."