The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee announced Friday it has subpoenaed Secretary of State John Kerry to testify about the new bombshell Benghazi documents at a May 21 hearing.
Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) accused the Obama administration of hiding the newly released records following an earlier congressional subpoena.
“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,” Chairman Issa wrote in a letter to Sec. John 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,” he added.
At a congressional hearing Thursday, Issa ripped the administration over the Benghazi emails, which were obtained and published by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch. The group only obtained the emails as result of a June 21, 2013, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the Department of State (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:13-cv-00951)). Issa said the State Department also told his committee about those emails in an April 17 letter.
In one of the emails, White House advisor Ben Rhodes writes about a “prep call” with then-U.N. ambassador Susan Rice, right before her despicable Sunday show appearances on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News and CNN. The email went on address the game plan was to stress the anti-Islam Internet video, and divert attention from the foreign policy failures following negative developments on the botched Arab Spring.
The email specifically lists the following two goals, as well as several others:
“To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”
“To reinforce the President and Administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.”
Wednesday, the White House outrageously claimed that the email was referencing protests elsewhere in the Middle East and Africa, but no one is buying it any longer, including a rather favorable White House Press Corps, who repeatedly cornered White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday and Thursday.
“The goal of the White House was to do one thing primarily, which was to make the president look good. Blame it on the video and not [the] president’s policies,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.
The context, however, is irrelevant to Issa, who notes the documents were withheld for Congress for over a year. “It is disturbing and perhaps criminal … that documents like these were hidden by the Obama administration from Congress and the public alike,” Issa said at Thursday’s hearing. He claimed the withholding of these documents is the worst transparency violation since at least the Nixon administration.
Interestingly, right before the House announced the subpoena, House Speaker John Boehner also called on Kerry to testify before Congress in light of these revelations.