The State Department said Monday Secretary of State John Kerry he will not comply with a subpoena to appear before the House Oversight Committee on May 21 to talk about Benghazi.
The CBS News outlet in Washington D.C. reports the panel’s chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., issued the subpoena Friday saying the State Department has “failed to meet its legal obligations.”
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Kerry will be in Mexico on the date requested and that officials would be willing to discuss other options with the committee.
“We are committed to working with the committee to find a resolution to this that is acceptable to both sides. We were surprised when they didn’t reach out to us before issuing a subpoena for exactly that reason,” Harf said.
The subpoena follows last week’s release of emails from Obama administration officials in which they discussed talking points following the deadly 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Republicans have argued that the administration was not forthright with citizens regarding the events surrounding the attack and that officials attempted to provide political cover for the president in the months before the presidential election.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced Friday that he would appoint a select House committee to further investigate the Benghazi incident. Boehner had resisted calls from his party to appoint the committee but an unnamed leadership aide told The Hill that the newly released emails were “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
“Americans learned this week that the Obama administration is so intent on obstructing the truth about Benghazi that it is even willing to defy subpoenas issued by the standing committees of the people's House,” Boehner said in a statement.
Harf, though, accused Boehner of playing politics with the attack. She noted that in 2007 he complained about an attempt to subpoena then-Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to testify about the Iraq War.
According to CBS News Harf pointed out that Boehner said, "By subpoenaing the Secretary of State, Democrats have revealed how beholden they are to leftwing activist groups while stealing the Secretary's time away from critical diplomatic missions."
Harf followed by adding, "So what we would say is you don't get to have different rules for different administrations ... We shouldn't play politics with Benghazi. Clearly, I think what we're seeing now can be called nothing but that.”