The chairman of the House oversight committee on Friday subpoenaed the senior diplomat who ran the State Department's investigation into the Benghazi attack, saying lawmakers deserve to be able to depose him before he testifies publicly.
Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican, issued the subpoena for Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering, who headed the Accountability Review Board that looked into the State Department's failure to bolster security at the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, ahead of last year's terrorist assault that left Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead.
"Your refusal to allow staff investigators to interview you is inconsistent with your commitment to be 'tough and transparent,'" Mr. Issa said in a letter to Mr. Pickering.
Transcribed interviews with investigators aren't a requirement of every witness, but committee staffers said they are fairly common in important cases.
The subpoena raises the temperature of already testy negotiations between House Republicans and the Obama administration over Benghazi. Earlier this week the White House, responding to GOP demands, released emails detailing editing of critical talking points in the days after the attack. But the emails did little to settle the matter, with each side saying the contents bolstered their interpretation.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the oversight committee, blasted Mr. Issa's decision to issue the subpoena, calling it an example of "extreme Republican overreach."
He said both Mr. Pickering and retired Adm. Mike Mullen, who headed the ARB with Mr. Pickering, have said they would testify at a public hearing, which should be good enough.
The review board has come under fire from Republicans who say Mr. Pickering never talked with then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and that the board failed to hold accountable any senior-level executives in the department.
State officials repeatedly denied requests for added security in the months leading up to the attack and actually removed personnel, even as warnings and incidents increased.
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