Earlier this week, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa decided that Congress had had just about enough of the Obama administration’s persnickety back-and-forth on the ongoing investigation into last year’s terrorist attack in Benghazi, and straight-up served the State Department with a subpoena for documents and communications between State Department officials concerning the attack and the altered talking points presented to the public in its aftermath. As of yesterday afternoon, however, the State Department hadn’t yet decided on a course of action for the subpoena — which I’m presuming means that they see noncompliance as a definite option. From their daily press briefing on Wednesday (h/t Breitbart):
QUESTION: New topic? Yesterday, Chairman Issa sent a letter to Secretary Kerry and issued a subpoena for documents relating to the development of the talking points used by Susan Rice and communications between 10 current and former State officials. Do you have a reaction? Has he responded? And does the Department intend on complying with the – I believe it’s June 7th deadline for supplying these documents?
MS. PSAKI: Well, let me just remind everyone since given the opportunity that we have demonstrated unprecedented – an unprecedented degree of cooperation with Congress on the issue of Benghazi, engaging now in nearly 40 hearings, briefing members of staff, and – members and staff – and sharing over 25,000 pages of documents with committees.
On this specific issue, you’ll recall that a hundred pages of documents on the talking points were released just weeks ago. They were inclusive of the emails around this issue, and from our perspective, the CIA-led interagency process, as we now know through which these talking points were developed, has been thoroughly addressed publicly.
But of course, we remain committed, as we have consistently been, to working with Congress, and we are taking stock of this recent subpoena and determining the next appropriate steps.
QUESTION: Since a hundred pages of emails were actually sent to them and everybody observed it, and in fact, there was a lot of backtracking on initial content and so on, what else – what is being subpoenaed?
MS. PSAKI: I encourage you to ask Chairman Issa that question.
QUESTION: Has the Secretary responded?
MS. PSAKI: No. I just said we’re determining the next appropriate steps.
QUESTION: So just a quick follow-up to that just for clarity. So when you say you’re determining the next appropriate steps, you haven’t yet decided whether or not the State Department will be providing the documents that are in the subpoena?
MS. PSAKI: That’s correct. But we have provided, just as a reminder, of course, a hundred pages of documents on the talking points that this is regarding.
Ugh. Why does this administration constantly feel the need to insist that their oh-so-magnanimous [non]cooperation is “unprecedented,” like they’re going out of their way to do us lowly citizens some kind of especial favor and that they are honest-to-goodness running The Most Transparent Administration, Evah (instead of, you know, the opposite of that)? The fact that they have provided over 100 pages or 25,000 pages of documents already really isn’t relevant if Congress thinks they still might be masking something — you could release tranches and tranches of documents that don’t answer the questions at hand, and that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re “cooperating.” I’d say this sounds a lot more like stonewalling than cooperating; and while progressive pundits and politicians insist that the GOP is jumping the shark with Benghazi and that there’s no actual “there-there,” then why in the heck don’t they just turn over the requested documents already and put this whole thing to bed?
Since it sounds like the State Department might be willing to take this thing to court or pull out executive privilege or issue redacted versions of the documents or whatever other options/excuses they might be considering other than just handing them over, I’m wondering if something in them might finally provide some of the long sought-after explicit accountability for the conveniently altered talking points ahead of the presidential election. Letting this escalate even further suggests that they’re hoping they can just keep dragging this thing out until people get bored with it (Fast and Furious, anyone?).