Secretary of State John Kerry will not be forced to testify before a congressional panel investigating the Benghazi attacks just yet.
Republican Rep. Darrell Issa on Friday released Kerry from a subpoena for his testimony before the House Oversight Committee on June 12, making it increasingly likely the secretary of state will be grilled at a later date by a new House select committee chaired by Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy.
State Department officials had previously made clear that Kerry’s testimony before the Oversight panel “would remove any need” for the secretary of state to answer additional questions before the select committee, created specifically to investigate the September 2012 terror attack in Libya. Kerry was not at the State Department at the time of the attacks, which killed four Americans.
Issa, who chairs the committee, accused Kerry of trying to “squirm his way” out of testifying and of using the scheduled hearing as a “shield against the Select Committee.”
“Seeing Secretary Kerry and others, who have worked to obstruct critical oversight of Congress’ investigations into Benghazi, attempt to use the upcoming June 12 hearing as a shield against the Select Committee tells me it’s time to reassess,” Issa said in a statement Friday. “It’s been disappointing to watch a long serving former Senator, like Secretary Kerry, squirm his way to what I’m doing today — releasing him from the upcoming hearing commitment he made only after we issued him a subpoena.”
House Speaker John Boehner had previously agreed to allow Issa to continue his investigation alongside the select committee probe and order Kerry to testify. But in his statement Friday, Issa said he and Boehner had a change of heart after neither “immediately recognized how opponents of congressional oversight would use this as an opportunity to distract from the Select Committee’s effort.”
Plans for the select committee are still slowly taking shape and there is no schedule for when it will convene its investigation.