John Kerry to testify before congressional panel on Benghazi attack
By MICHAEL A. MEMOLI | Tribune Washington Bureau | Published: May 24, 2014
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John F. Kerry will testify next month before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, the State Department said Friday.
A spokeswoman for the department suggested his appearance would eliminate the need for Kerry to testify separately before a new House select committee established this month to also investigate the attack, which claimed the lives of four Americans at the U.S. diplomatic compound there.
“We have been clear that we’re willing to work with the committee despite the fact that the Benghazi oversight has been consolidated under the select committee,” Marie Harf told reporters at a State Department briefing. “We believe the secretary’s appearance before (the oversight committee) will eliminate any need for the secretary to appear a second time before the select committee.”
A spokesman for Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chair of the new select committee, said it would “talk to all material witnesses as many times as necessary to discover all relevant facts and answer all relevant questions in a manner consistent with fair practice and respectful of the witnesses’ other responsibilities.”
The oversight committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., subpoenaed Kerry twice, seeking his appearance before the committee first May 21 and then May 29. Harf said that he could not appear those days because he had previously planned diplomatic travel. The letter sent to Issa on Friday suggested that Kerry testify on June 12 or 20. Issa agreed to the June 12 date.
Harf said that the State Department believed “there are more appropriate witnesses” to discuss the incident. Kerry was a member of the Senate at the time of the attack, which occurred during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary.