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. smc

    Could somebody please send these Republicans a bill for wasting taxpayer dollars?

    This story is only relevant to members of the delusional right who think that somehow by a single member of the administration mistakenly over emphasizing a talking point many days after the attack occurred she magically caused Benghazi to happen, even though the administration had said days earlier it was likely planned terrorism.

    May 2, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |

    The trouble for ISSA IS, he will probably be KICKED OUT OF OFFICE in November for his TOTAL INCOMPETENCE and wasting MILLIONS of OUR TAX PAYERS MONEY while conducting his partisan political CIRCUS with NO RESULTS, what a total FAILURE this GOP SLUG and CAR THIEF IS!!!!!

    May 2, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  3. GlenR

    GOP/Teabaggers go nuts over Benghazi but there wonderful selective memories forget...

    200+ Marines killed by terrorists during Reagan with no response
    The selling of weapons to Iran following the embassy takeover
    64 attacks on US foreign interests during Bush
    The 4000 service personnel lost in Iraq for the sole purpose of enriching GOP supporting defense contractors

    May 2, 2014 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  4. Lenny Pincus

    Imagine if Republicans actually did something constructive...

    May 2, 2014 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. salty dog

    Awwwhh, how nice, skkyye is acting like they truly care, just about this though, the others who died under bush, well now that's not worth worrying about, priceless, how ignorant do you think people really are? Are you implying the other 50 Americans who died, they're families don't deserve the same, hypocritical fool!

    May 2, 2014 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  6. KBNJ

    LOL, this comments section must be costing Soros a pretty mint.
    Bottom line is, anyone thinking Obama (and Hillary) didn't try to cover up their complicity in Benghazi for political gain just isn't dealing with a full deck. Some people simply aren't going to see the truth REGARDLESS of the facts. CNN editors are, apparently among them, perhaps to cover for Candy helping the POTUS lie in a Presidential debate?

    May 2, 2014 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  7. sonny chapman

    Repubs. WILL find a witch to burn !!

    May 2, 2014 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  8. ratface

    Keep your healthcare plan.. it was a youtube video... dems are slaves to corrupt... no different than Bush lovers.

    May 2, 2014 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  9. Luc

    who cares if Kerry is subpoenaed it won't change outcome enough already get running the country GOP. GOP didn't care when Bush went to war in Iraq under false pretenses and 4000 American's died. Something went wrong in Bengahzi make changes so that protection will be available when needed. Please House republicans refused extra funding for the region for security and they want to twist it and blame it on somebody. It happened it was horrible now fix it so that it doesn't happen again. OMG GOP should start coming up with ideas to run the country there are elections on the horizon oh they don't have any.

    May 2, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  10. edwardst35

    The political and Democratic "Liars Club", Hillary, Obama, and Kerry. They SHINE so brilliantly! Death merchants!

    May 2, 2014 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  11. Kenman

    Why even bother calling this career politician, as you'll see he has no more respect for the committee and getting to the truth than any of the CURRENT Democrats up there carrying the administration's water, with the irresponsible media bringing up the rear!

    May 2, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  12. edwardst35

    "What does it matter now?"

    May 2, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  13. salty dog

    Takes a certain kind of person to advocate finding justice for one killing, but not ones that don't garner political gain for your party, childess behavior is all I've seen in over 5 years from the gop, very very tired of it, and I'm certain I'm not alone, won't miss election, time to pick your pony, it should be easy. Only two kinds of people vote gop, rich, and stupid.

    May 2, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  14. jjt35

    pathetic. the republicans are to determined to keep the smoke in the air. the only problem is that the tp'ers don't realize there is a smoke machine and not an actual fire at the bottom of it all. it was a tragedy not a scandal and not a conspiracy. and they tp'ers think that someone voted for obama instead of romney because of what was said about benghazi, they are delusional...

    May 2, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  15. The Real Tom Paine

    @ Smith, and why are those stories not important? Your claims of being an impartial observer are getting weaker by the second, along with tom l.

    May 2, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  16. Lynda/Minnesota

    It is extremely pathetic that Darryl Issa is being allowed to turn Benghazi into a mock media circus event. There should be no doubt that he is playing into the hands of Al Queda leadership cheering on his anti-American fanaticism. Shame on him. Shame on our American media. Shame on Congress. Shame on Lindsey Graham.

    May 2, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  17. Luc

    skkyye- doesn't Bush owe it to all the parents of the 4000 service people who died in Iraq an answer why he lied about weapons of mass distruction. Please get on with running the country. Too much money is wasted pointing the finger at each other and nothing getting accomplished for this country.

    May 2, 2014 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  18. Stan Mayhew

    Until we as a people learn the difference between "defense" and "offense" and realize that playing defense is very difficult we will continue with stupid recriminations of the honorable people who protect us. When on offense, one only needs to succeed once. On defense, one must prevail every single time. This is a very tall order in an imperfect world.
    We have enemies, both military and political. We must learn to respect the abilities of those who mean us harm while disliking what they stand for.

    May 2, 2014 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  19. Moondog165

    It past time to find out the whole truth. 2 Years ago this Admin was standing on its head over a video and did not lift a finger to help those guys when they were begging for it. I have never known our military to run from a fight when countrymen were in deep trouble. They always run to the sound of the guns. If someone told the military to NOT help...I want to know. If it was a bad decision (at the very least) lets find that out too. I can live with that but to be told from a politician NOT to go help......I have HUGE issues with that. If this Admin has been covering up those a real big problem with that too.

    May 2, 2014 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  20. sly

    " 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."
    Mr. Stevens was directly asked by Sec of State Clinton to take on additional security. Mr. Stevens refused additional security, saying he could take care of himself.

    Sadly, he paid for his ignorance.

    May 2, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  21. dannyCali

    Anyway....., Democratic still get elect for President in 2016 and John Kerry still in office......!!!!

    May 2, 2014 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  22. CryBabies

    Get over it libs....The MSM has ignored this ( with coaxing by the Administration) long enough. No more stonewalling or double talk from Jay Carney and his ilk anymore. Maybe now we get some forced transparency.

    May 2, 2014 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  23. capiers

    It is always unfortunate when an American dies abroad for reasons we simply cannot understand. 1000's of Americans have died from wars that still have not been justified. Why do we waste our time with this Benghazi incident it truly is a speck compared to the 2 unjustified wars.

    May 2, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  24. Brian Peterson

    Wow! Amazing to me, seeing Obama administration supporters come to their defense and their reasoning for doing so! Regardless of your political affiliations, the truth needs to come out. Information has been withheld, witnesses sequestered, deception and downplaying administrations role in all of it! I may be a bit cynical but I don't believe this administration. Let's not forget that this all started a few weeks before a presidential election and may have very well changed the outcome if the truth was told in the beginning. Sorry, this had nothing to do with George Bush and to inject his administrations failures into the argument is not relevant. I want to know if this was a tragic foreign policy failure by this administration and if they tried to cover up their failure by lying to the American public for political reasons before and after a Presidential election. If that is what happened, it's bad…very bad and there should be consequences and repercussions.

    May 2, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  25. Tampa Tim

    If I was a worthless drunk in charge of the House of Representatives, I would demand that Issa spend millions for no reason, other than to embarrass Hillary for republican wrong doing by not funding our embassies. 9-11-2001, 15 embassy attacks under Bush with 50 Americans killed, unnecessary republican wars with 4500 Americans killed, makes this the biggest witch hunt since Salem.

    May 2, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
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