(CNSNews.com) – The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee issued a new subpoena today for State Department Secretary John Kerry to testify about the release of documents on the Benghazi terrorist attack, saying that the State Department was engaging in “slippery tactics” particularly in now trying to offer “a more appropriate witness” to testify in place of Kerry.
The committee also said that barring a claim of “executive privilege,” the State Department was legally obligated to comply with the subpoena.
The Oversight Committee had already subpoenaed Kerry to testify on May 21 but agreed to reschedule after the State Department requested an alternative date to better accommodate Kerry’s official schedule. But now the State Department apparently is non-commital on making Kerry available to testify.
“I lifted the subpoena requiring Secretary Kerry to testify on May 21 because the State Department made reasonable arguments for an accommodation and told our Committee they were seeking a suitable alternative date for his testimony on a voluntary basis,” said Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) in a statement released today.
“But soon after I lifted the subpoena, the State Department back tracked – stating publicly that we should accept ‘a more appropriate witness’ and refusing to commit to making Secretary Kerry available,” said Issa.
“With this State Department’s slippery tactics, it’s no wonder our friends in the world are losing faith in us and our adversaries doubt our credibility,” said the chairman. “The State Department had discussed May 29 as a possible alternative date and that’s when Secretary Kerry will be obligated to appear – further accommodation will not be possible.”
“Absent an assertion of executive privilege, the State Department has a legal obligation to fully and completely comply,” said Issa.
The committee wants Kerry to testify about the State Department’s non-compliance with three subpoenas for documents related to the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, where four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, were killed.
The committee had subpoenaed some of the Benghazi correspondence back in August 2013. On Apr. 17 of this year the State Department informed the committee it was providing “an additional set of documents” subject to that 2013 subpoena.
“These previously withheld e-mails, which were apparently only turned over as the result of a judge’s ruling in a FOIA case, showed that White House official Ben Rhodes coordinated talking points for then-Ambassador Susan Rice which encouraged an emphasis that the attack was ‘rooted in an Internet video, and not a failure of policy,’” said Chairman Issa in his statement today.