May 2nd, 2014
11:25 AM ET
9 years 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.

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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. Elmer Fudd

    Divided we fall ! When are the Republicans going to realize this ?

    May 2, 2014 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  2. NC Dores

    DeDude does not realize that the mom is a pay-to-play type.

    May 2, 2014 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  3. misterflibble1

    @CryBabies – Shame on Congressional Republicans for removing $300 million for Embassy Security from the 2010 budget.

    May 2, 2014 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  4. TheSadTruth

    I missed the article about Bush and Cheney being subpoenaed about the Iraq war and the non existant WMDs- since the deliberate deception by Bush and Cheney cost over 1000 times more American lives than were lost in Benghazi.

    May 2, 2014 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  5. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ CryBabies: "Lynda/Minnesota....shame on theObama Administration"

    Ah, yes. You are Rubber and and I am Glue. What I say bounces off you and sticks to me.

    I haven't played it in half a century or so. What a delightfully childish game ... yes?

    May 2, 2014 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  6. Whereisthemiddle?

    Is it possible to regret the death of 4 Americans and still believe that no one directly was as fault for their deaths other than the criminals that killed them? What is so special about these 4 men that separate them from all the soldiers that die overseas during conflicts during each administration? I understand partisan issues but at what point does a person admit there is nothing left to find and no rocks left to look under? At no point will the Presiden, the SoT or anyone else be proven to be at fault for their death. We know there was not enough security and there was no support within an acceptable distance to help them. Do we even know if that has changed since this incident or are we still looking to blame someone for it instead?

    May 2, 2014 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  7. bczu

    Russia's about to start WW3 and we are worried about something that was already investigated (multiple times)

    May 2, 2014 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  8. cjb

    31 countries relied on the same intel about WMD's and supported America in proceeding into Iraq. The testimony has been that money was never an issue on security – but here we go again – the liberal wingnuts are out posting every busher nonsense they can trying to diminish the horrifying events that this administration took place in (and it has now been proven they were involved in a massive cover up). This is 1000 times worse than Watergate and it is time for impeachment.

    May 2, 2014 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  9. Denise

    When Hillary testified, she made them look like a bunch of damned fools.

    May 2, 2014 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  10. morris

    OMG Can the Gop ever get over this and start coming up with solutions. Frankly GOP we don't give as dam!!!!!!!!

    May 2, 2014 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  11. Chuck

    Boy the liberals are scared today, just read all their silly posts.

    May 2, 2014 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  12. Fred Evil

    Witch hunt Issa, at it again.
    Any JOBS bills yet there, Mr. Issa? Has ONE been passed and signed by the President? NO?
    But FIFTY tilts at the ACA windmill, huh?
    Nice priorities.

    May 2, 2014 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  13. thams moore

    All we want is the truth. No we demand it. The lies and deliberate misleading by all politicians has to stop. We, the American people, are getting tired of it.

    May 2, 2014 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  14. Denise

    It's Benghazi, stupid! lol

    May 2, 2014 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  15. joe

    Clinton allowed americans to be murdered...this isn't a joke people. ( can no make the lame reply "this post is a joke.")

    May 2, 2014 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  16. Mike

    Any one who spends any time on Behghazi and isn't pounding their fist down for Cheney, Bush and Rumsfeld to be tried for treason and sedition is a fraud.

    May 2, 2014 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  17. smith

    @Tom P-I was simply pointing out that fox talks about Benghazi 24/7 just like msnbc talks about bridgegate 24/7.

    May 2, 2014 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  18. mindstorms1

    I'm still wondering where those imaginary WMDs are in Iraq? You remember the reason Bush and the neocons told us we have to invade Iraq. A war that didn't locate any WMDs but cost us billions of dollars and thousands of dead and wounded. But the GOP is concerned with four deaths in Benghazi. Yes that was a tragedy but compared to Iraq and its impact on our country it is less than a minor affair. Please investigate the Iraqi debacle so we can finally find out why such a blunder occurred. When that is completed then investigate Benghazi.

    May 2, 2014 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  19. Bob

    What can there possibly be left to talk about here. Are they really going to try to keep this farce going all the way to 2016?

    May 2, 2014 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  20. Tony

    What is funny about this is that Republicans assume that Obama must be involved because someone at the White House sent an e-mail. On the other hand, Republicans believe Christie when he said that some people in his office closed down the George Washington Bridge for several days without his knowledge. No coverup in that one, right, Republicans?

    May 2, 2014 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  21. Hank

    The POTUS lied to the American people claiming the attack was in response to some amateur video, then persuaded officials to incarcerate the filmmaker. Terrorists are ignored by this administration while they pander to the irresponsible populous.

    May 2, 2014 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  22. skkyye

    Anonymous.....well said!

    May 2, 2014 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  23. sly

    "As a HUMAN BEING you should want to have the people that allowed something like this to pay for what has happened to the individuals that died in Benghazi. Quit pointing fingers like children and come to realization that this should be resolved for the comfort of the families that died and to rightfully punish the ones that led to the demise of the Benghazi embassy."
    Well put – all Republican's in the House to resign, or go to jail. They have American blood on their hand.

    Imagine – asked for $300 million in increased security for embassies – they replied "Screw the Americans. No more security"

    May 2, 2014 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  24. Phantom

    Little Tommy does not know basic rules of courtesy.
    A disgrace.

    May 2, 2014 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  25. Ken in MO

    This is so shameful! Darrell Issa should be impeached for wasting the taxpayers money. He is an irresponsible and incredibly ignorant man. I dont know how anyone can belong to a party of ignorance, bigotry and, as Marco Rubio said, "Party of Stupid"!!!

    May 2, 2014 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
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