The top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee accused Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) of creating conflict just to reap publicity with his subpoena of Secretary of State John Kerry.
The subpoena tells Kerry to appear at a May 21 hearing to answer more questions about Benghazi — in particular, the State Department’s unwillingness to hand over requested documents to the committee.
In a three-page letter to Kerry accompanying the subpoena, Issa outlines the State Department’s evasiveness with the committee and stresses that “compliance with a subpoena for documents is not a game.”
Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), whose battles with Issa have only gotten more heated as the chairman continues to investigate the Sept. 11, 2012, terror attack, said Issa didn’t check if Kerry would be in the country before issuing the subpoena and didn’t hold a committee vote on the action.
“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,” Cummings said in a statement.
The House Oversight Dems noted that in 2007, then-Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) issued a subpoena to require Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to testify “only after he had sent multiple letters requesting her testimony and after a full debate and vote by the entire Committee.” The reason was to grill Rice about justification for the war in Iraq.
“Even after the Committee voted to issue the subpoena, Chairman Waxman worked with the Secretary to identify a date that worked for her schedule, ultimately postponing the hearing more than four months,” Cummings’ office noted.
They highlighted Issa’s opposition to the Rice subpoena, in which he noted “the inappropriateness of hauling the secretary of State … out of the performance of her job.”
At a press conference yesterday, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) complained, “Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, why aren’t we talking about something else.”
“Whatever was in that, what I know of what I’ve read in the press about those emails were very consistent with what was put out there before. I don’t think there’s anything new there,” Pelosi said.