Oversight looking to interview thirteen more State Dept officials plus ARB report authors on Benghazi
posted at 8:01 pm on May 23, 2013 by Erika Johnsen
There’s been some concern[-trolling] that Republicans might be pushing their luck with the extent to which they are focusing on Scandalmania and especially the ongoing Benghazi debacle, but a CNN poll earlier this week confirmed that a healthy majority of 59 percent of Americans approve of the way Republicans have been handling the investigation, with only 37 percent saying that they are overreacting over the whole thing — and Republicans have no intention of cutting the chase short because of President Obama and Friends’ feigned indignation with their persistence.
The Weekly Standard reports that House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa has a substantial list of State Department employees from whom Congress would still like to hear more, and it sounds like they’re going straight for the jugular with personnel who have conveniently escaped too much scrutiny so far and are going to hold Secretary Kerry to his promise to run “an accountable and open State Department”:
As the investigation into the Obama administration’s handling of the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi intensifies, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are seeking to conduct transcribed interviews with thirteen top State Department officials in the coming weeks in order to learn more. Those named in the letter include a wide range of current and former State Department personnel, from senior advisers to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to mid-level career officials with responsibility for diplomatic security.
Among those officials: Jacob Sullivan, then deputy chief of staff and director of policy planning (and currently national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden); Victoria Nuland, then State Department spokesman; Raymond Maxwell, deputy assistant secretary of state for near east affairs; Patrick Kennedy, undersecretary of state for management; and Eric Boswell, former assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security.
In a letter dated May 17, 2013, Representative Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry to request formally that Kerry make these current and former State Department employees available. “The State Department employees whose testimony the Committee is seeking are critical fact witnesses who are positioned to shed light on what happened before, during and after the terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of four Americans in Benghazi.”
In addition, the Weekly Standard reports, Oversight is planning a transcribed interview with Ambassador Thomas Pickering on June 3rd, and is likely looking for the same with Admiral Mike Mullen — the two primary authors of the Accountability Review Board report to which the Obama administration has been steadily referring questions and the credibility of which has recently come into question (granted that it looks like they rather conspicuously neglected to interview Secretary Clinton and other relevant officials, and all that).
Congressional Republicans aren’t planning to let up on Scandalmania in general either over the upcoming Memorial Day recess next week; many will be heading home to their districts but they plan on maintaining a steady application of pressure, according to the National Journal:
In interviews on local television and radio programs and with newspapers, Senate Republicans plan to talk about the Obama administration’s “credibility gap.” They’ll throw into the mix Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s request that health industry officials help fund “Obamacare,” a move Republicans call a “shakedown” of the companies she regulates, according to a GOP leadership aide.
Lawmakers will argue that a “lack of details, stonewalling,” and what they call an “ever-changing White House narrative” on both Benghazi and the IRS have led to a trust deficit with the public, a sentiment reflected in recent polls, the aide said. …
On the House side, Republicans will tell voters back home that they’ll “definitely see more hearings” on the IRS and Benghazi, a House leadership aide said.
“We’re focused on getting to the bottom of this. What we saw over the last week demonstrates that we need to look further. That we need answers on the who, what, where, when, and why,” the aide said.