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. Robert

    The Democrats had better hope and pray that the latest rumor is not true. That rumor is the Benghazi consulate in Libya was being used to run guns to the Syrian Rebels for their fight against the Asaad regime. If this is true, the Obama Administration will have to explain why millions of dollars of American arms were given to the people responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US...yes, Al Qaeda.

    May 2, 2014 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  2. Theguy

    Liberal Logic...Bush lies about WMDs (even though both Clintons agreed with him) Its treason....But if the Barry administraion get caught lying about this story, its no big deal. Got it

    May 2, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  3. duane - st.pete FL

    keep trying to sweep this under the rug

    May 2, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  4. DK

    To those who constantly try to equate Benghazi with other embassy attacks, let me spell it out for you.

    There was never a concerted effort to conceal and deceive for the purpose of not making the administration look bad until benghazi due to an upcoming election. Get it?

    May 2, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  5. Silence DoGood

    Couple of white guys and a couple of Christians died.
    Like Hillary said "What does it really matter?"
    Actually that is the opposite of what she said in context, not as a sound bite from Hannity. She is a smart lady who uses lots of words that you have to think about.

    She was being hounded about the motivation of the attackers. She said "what does it matter" about the motivation, it was more important that 4 people died and we should look into preventing this in the future.

    May 2, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  6. Frank D

    They've already been cooperating!!!!!! Wow!!!!!

    May 2, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  7. allen

    I have nothing to hide so it is executive order time to hide things.

    May 2, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    Looks like it's time to fire up the Ben Gahzi drinking game again. *Drink
    I'm afraid of getting alcohol poisoning!

    May 2, 2014 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  9. fedup

    OMG. Let it go and stop waisting my taxes! Here is a not new idea GOP, pass some laws and regulation that you were elected to do and stop relentlessly looking for a needle in a haystack that isn't there!!!!

    May 2, 2014 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  10. Dead Bear

    @Robert... Didn't the CIA during the Reagan administration train and arm the likes of Osama bin Laden while Afghanistan was under Soviet occupation???... Your argument, or whatever you want to call that statement you just made, is irrelevant.

    May 2, 2014 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  11. Jobadiah

    This is about determining if the Obama Administration lied to the American people. The thing that mattesr is if the Obama Administration knew it was a terrorist attack and concealed the truth about 4 murdered Americans.

    May 2, 2014 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  12. Silence DoGood

    Liberal Logic...Bush lies about WMDs (even though both Clintons agreed with him) Its treason....But if the Barry administraion get caught lying about this story, its no big deal. Got it
    OK – let's give Obama 1/000th (4/4000 people) the judgement and penalty Bush got in his War Crimes trial.
    There wasn't one???

    May 2, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  13. Watergate Zero Deaths

    They used to say the cover-up is what will get you. With the current occupant of the white house and his adoring press and dumbed down public, lies and fabrication on top of incredible incompetence on nearly every thing he does seems to finely caught up with him, Sort of a "fool fatigue" Never ever vote for a man who has never had a job, but spends his life preening. Thank God for FOX News. Fair and Balanced works out in the end.

    May 2, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  14. so much for honesty

    Are the Republicans so desperate for a scandal they will grill a man who didn't have that office until more than a year after said incident?

    May 2, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |

    More hair on fire Benghazi rants that Americans will ignore like they did in Nov 2012.

    May 2, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  16. Wolfy

    The whole premise of a 'cover-up' is that Obama wanted us to believe that the terrorists were completely wiped out. The problem is, that only the Fox News zombies were actually believe that. Every other intelligient person knows that was not what Obama wanted us to believe. We all knew terrorists were still in Somalia, Yemen and alot of other little countries. We all knew there was still work to do, and so did the Administration, noted by the continued use of drones in those countries. The only people that want to believe the Administration wanted people to think they were entirely eliminated, are the tin foil hat Fox watchers!

    May 2, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  17. M

    It is evident now from these released emails that everyone knew this was a terrorist attack, yet the administration tried, from the top down, to cover it up and blame it on a video. Everyone involved watched as the full might of the Federal government came down on a single American individual as the fall guy, and they all watched him sit in jail for over a year. This administration did absolutely nothing to intervene during this attack on Americans. They lauded Libya and the fall of Ghadafi as a huge Obama success, when in reality that country has completely been overrun by our enemies, including Al Qaeda. I'd give anything to see an alternate reality where all this happened under a Republican administration, and to see all the libs today who say it's not a big deal, tearing their hair out over this.

    May 2, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  18. "Breath and Release"

    If you already belive that he will (is) lying then why even call him to congress? Do you feel the same way about Christy? By your standards he must be lying too.

    @Johnny 5

    Kerry will just take to the stand, mumble a few words (which are dishonest) with a Droopy the Dog face and then go back to being a war baiting ramblin' man

    May 2, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  19. hottpoker

    These nuts are desperate as elections draw near. In their ignorance and zeal to try to dig up some dirt about the administration they can't even realize John Kerry was not in the administration at the time.
    It shows their ignorance and petty party politicking.

    May 2, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  20. Dennis Fitzpatrick

    Now the Republicans are on yet another witch hunt for Benghazi. They can not find anything to stick. McCartyism at its worst is Issa committee. How about doing an investigation into 9/11 and Bush Administration that did not do anything prior even though they had information of Bin Ladin planning major attack? Thousands died from the worst terrorist attack in history and I have yet to find an in depth investigation into failure of Bush's FBI, CIA and State Department? Oh yeah, forgot Republicans get a get out of jail free time. Not to mentioned they tanked economy, had two wars not funded, tax breaks for rich and got us in to a near depression, and worst recession since the depression. Let them get real about what to investigate.

    May 2, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  21. salty dog

    Glen, thank you for speaking from a logical, unemotional standpoint, that's why I don't really understand why the rwnj go ballistic over what difference does it make, I though that s logical, honest assessment. Why are they so worried about assigning blame now? What about 4500 young American patriots, why do they suddenly not matter, or the 50 americans who died similarly under the last Republican administration, why are they only concerned about this particular incident. Yet the rwnj consistently politicizes it, shameless, and disgusting, what it really shows is they simply don't care, if loss of life is the issue, surely 4500 should be more concerning than 4, but it clearly isn't, just as clearly should be evidence of their inability to care, politics won't let them.

    May 2, 2014 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  22. NameFrank Deery

    Benghazi will Not go away-like Watergste, Democrats. You covered it all up, to insure
    another term for Obama. And whst a horror that has been!
    Hedonism reigns in The Arts and Sports,
    crime is rampant, even in grade schools, and
    our once trusted aliies are shaking their heads as Putin and Assad and the idiots in Iran grow more brazen as Obama preens
    in Asia(no trade deals there) or fundraises!

    Kerry is, like Jane Fonda, an old 70's radical trying to compete in an even coarser world
    With tech devices they cannot fathom, obviously. We need people in charge who can. The Democrats lie and spin(Jay Carney!
    Get Out of There!), as Obama shams-globally.

    Vote Republican across tour ballots in 2014 and 2016. We warned you! The Democrats lied about Health Care! Keystone could give Enemic America 20k plus jobs, but Obama plays politics(no Leader, this is ALL he knows). Ukraine is lost, too. No muscle on this side of the Atlantic. Just jellyfish.

    May 2, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  23. Guest

    Obama, where is the JUSTICE you promised.

    May 2, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    " The thing that mattesr is if the Obama Administration knew it was a terrorist attack and concealed the truth about 4 murdered Americans.

    Not really. The only reason it "really matters" to the GOP/Teatrolls is because they desperately need to find a way to blame their loss of the 2012 POTUS election on something, anything other than what it was really a result of: their blatant racism, bigotry, failed ideology and need to completely and utterly overhaul their entire party platform and agenda.

    May 2, 2014 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  25. budshot

    Issa is a lying scum. You would think the Republicans would at least put somebody reliable and respected in this position but I guess there's nobody available in their ranks with those credentials.

    May 2, 2014 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
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