Issa releases Kerry from Benghazi testimony

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the House Oversight committee on Friday released Secretary of State John Kerry from his obligation to testify next month about the deadly Benghazi attack, allowing a newly formed select committee to move forward in questioning the top diplomat.

In a swipe at a member of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, Rep. Darrell Issa accused Kerry of trying to use his June 12 appearance before the oversight panel as an excuse to avoid testifying before the select House committee investigating the Sept. 11, 2012, assault on the Libyan outpost.

The State Department had said last week that the secretary would testify before Issa’s panel but that the appearance “would remove any need for the secretary to appear before the select committee to answer additional questions.”

The California Republican said he had no choice but to reassess.

“It’s been disappointing to watch a long-serving former senator, like Secretary Kerry, squirm his way to what I’m doing today — releasing him from the upcoming hearing commitment he made only after we issued him a subpoena,” Issa said in a statement.

Issa had twice subpoenaed Kerry to testify about emails and other documents that the Obama administration has provided Congress about the attack. Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed. After weeks of back and forth, Kerry had told the panel he could testify next month, and Issa agreed.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday that officials were “mystified” by Issa’s decision as well as his criticism that Kerry has obstructed the probe. It’s “hard to see how that’s accurate when we were prepared to appear,” Psaki said.

Republicans have accused the administration of misleading the American people about the attack, playing down a terror attack in the weeks before the 2012 presidential election, and then stonewalling congressional investigators.

Multiple independent, bipartisan and Republican-led investigations have been conducted in the nearly 20 months since the attack. Investigators have faulted the State Department for lax security at the diplomatic facility.

The House voted along party lines on May 8 to establish a select committee to conduct an eighth probe led by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. In creating the panel, the House also required the committees involved in Benghazi investigations, including Armed Services, Intelligence and Oversight, to turn over all their documents within 14 days to the select committee.

That leaves that panel as the main congressional investigator, essentially ending the other probes, including Issa’s.

In her upcoming book, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton — a potential 2016 presidential candidate — defended her response to the attack and criticized those who politicized the assault, saying she “will not be part of a political slugfest on the backs of dead Americans.”

At a Capitol Hill news conference, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was asked about Clinton’s complaints.

“This is about one issue and one issue only, and that is getting the truth for the American people and the truth about what happened in Benghazi for the four families that lost their loved ones there. That’s why we created a select committee,” he said.

Boehner said it would be up to the select committee on whether it calls Clinton to testify.

The top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee said Friday that his panel’s investigation focused on several statements about Benghazi that proved wrong, and he was satisfied with the military’s response that chaotic night.

“Given what the posture of the military was at the time, yes,” Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., the panel chairman, said in an interview taped for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” that will air Sunday. “We are not a 7/24 rotation. We don’t have pilots sitting on the runway in their plane with the plane fully fueled and equipped with ammunition to run many different kinds of missions. We can’t afford to do that.”

More in Local News

Suspect sought in two Everett bank robberies

He’s described as 5-foot-10 to 6-foot-1, with dark hair and a goatee, and may have a neck tattoo.

Two missing men found, one alive and one dead

The man found alive was found in an apartment across the hallway and taken to a hospital.

Jogger unharmed after fending off attacker in Edmonds

Police released video of a man they believe to be the attacker.

Darrington School Board dealing with upheavals

The crux of the controversy seems to be the superintendent’s job.

Alaska Airlines will fly from Everett to 8 West Coast cities

Two destinations that didn’t make the list were Spokane and Hawaii.

Three teens arrested for Marysville school vandalism

Windows were broken and a trash bin was on fire Sunday night at a Marysville middle school.

Langley mayor threatens newspaper with lawsuit

The mayor threatened to sue the paper over claims he withheld public records disclosure information.

Divers called to recover body after train hits pedestrian

The accident was reported by a BNSF crew near Woods Creek in Monroe.

FILE - This Tuesday, May 30, 2017 file photo, former Washington Gov. John Spellman, second from left, leaves a memorial service in Renton, Wash. Spellman, the last Republican governor elected in Washington, has died at age 91. Spellman’s son, Seattle attorney David Spellman, confirmed his death Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren,File)
John Spellman was last GOP governor of Washingon

He had spent recent weeks “being very disappointed with the Cougs and the Huskies,” his son said.

Most Read