Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have been insisting that, despite their indignant insistence to the contrary, the Obama administration still has plenty of explaining to do and needs to release more documents relating to the deadly terrorist attack in Benghazi last September and the subsequent talking-point shenanigans. Last week, Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry reminding him of his promise to run “an accountable and open State Department” and asking that he make available for questioning a list of State employees that have yet to be thoroughly cross-examined, so to speak — and on Tuesday, Issa straight-up subpoenaed the State Department for all of the documents and communications relating to the Benghazi talking points. Boom, via The Hill:
In the letter, Issa states that the department’s release of 100 emails earlier this month was “incomplete.” Issa demands that Kerry produce “relevant documents through subpoena. The enclosed subpoena covers documents and the communications related to talking points prepared for members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and used by Ambassador Susan Rice during her September 16th, 2012, appearances on CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, and CNN.”
Issa said that the documents released on May 20th did not answer “critical” questions posed by the committee as it investigates what happened during the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the aftermath of that terror attack that killed former U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stephens and three other U.S. officials.
The subpoena (you can read the full letter here) allows the State Department until June 7th to pony up the full range of documents they have so far declined to turn over voluntarily, which Issa’s letter claims are “crucial to the Committee’s investigation” — specifically, the Committee is looking for the relevant communications between these guys:
The letter and subpoena gives sets a deadline of Friday, June 7, 2013, for Secretary Kerry to provide all documents and communications referring or relating to the Benghazi talking points, to or from the following current and former State Department personnel:
1. William Burns, Deputy Secretary of State;
2. Elizabeth Dibble, Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs;
3. Beth Jones, Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs;
4. Patrick Kennedy, Under Secretary for Management;
5. Cheryl Mills, Counselor and Chief of Staff to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton;
6. Thomas Nides, Deputy Secretary for Management;
7. Victoria Nuland, Spokesperson;
8. Philippe Reines, Deputy Assistant Secretary;
9. Jake Sullivan, Director of Policy Planning; and,
10. David Adams, Assistant Secretary for State for Legislative Affairs.
The administration has managed to worm their way out of providing Congress with all of the requested information and/or just flat-out ignored them to date, but I can’t believe that they ever thought for one moment the Oversight Committee would demur from issuing a subpoena when push came to shove; it’s going to be very telling to see how far they may-or-may-not be willing to go to avoid turning over whatever it is they have been so keen to avoid so far. Maybe they’ll comply with the subpoena; or they might “comply” with the subpoena, pulling rank and issuing redacted materials to stall further; or, are they really willing to take this thing to court, in hopes of pushing it into murky, drawn-out, and (with any luck) largely overlooked territory à la Fast and Furious? We shall see.