- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Secretary of State John Kerry’s right-hand man has been called to Congress to testify about the slow pace of information being released to the congressional committee probing the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack, the probe’s chairman announced Wednesday.

Jon Finer, Mr. Kerry’s chief of staff, will appear before the committee July 29 unless the department quickly steps up its production of documents, Chairman Trey Gowdy announced.

The timing has drawn a rebuke from Democrats who say Mr. Finer was integral to the negotiations with Iran over that country’s nuclear program, and forcing him to testify now would distract from that important work.

But Mr. Gowdy said he’s fed up with excuses from the department for a slow response to requests for information, and that Mr. Finer, whom Mr. Kerry designated as his answers-man on Benghazi, needs to clear things up.

“Our committee has tried asking personally. Our committee has tried letter requests. Our committee has tried public hearings with other agency employees. Our committee has tried subpoenas. While the tactics tried have varied, the results have not,” Mr. Gowdy said. “Our committee is not in possession of all documents needed to do the work assigned to us.”

He and the State Department have been feuding over former Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails, which the committee has demanded, but some of which have apparently been withheld.

Mr. Gowdy said if Mr. Finer refuses to appear voluntarily, he will be compelled by a subpoena.

The State Department, in a letter dated Monday, had declined Mr. Gowdy’s initial request for Mr. Finer, saying it “will not be possible” because of the effort the administration is making trying to win support from Congress for its Iran agreement.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the probe, said this week that Mr. Finer and other top department officials have better things to do with their time.

“This is either embarrassingly poor planning or a flimsy attempt by Republicans to scuttle the Iran deal,” he said.

The State Department said it will keep working to schedule interviews and produce documents.

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