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House committee subpoenas Kerry over Benghazi

House committee subpoenas Kerry over Benghazi

JOHN KERRY:The Kerry subpoena came a few days after Obama critics pounced on emails from U.S. officials released by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch on Tuesday. Photo: Associated Press

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee has issued a subpoena for Secretary of State John Kerry to testify at a May 21 public hearing concerning the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the committee said on Friday.

Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said the panel wanted Kerry to answer questions about the State Department’s response to the congressional investigation of the Benghazi attack.

Issa, a California Republican, said the State Department has not fully complied with previous subpoenas for documents related to the attack on September 11, 2012, that killed four Americans.

Separately, House Speaker John Boehner, said he intends for the House to vote to create a new select committee to investigate the Benghazi incident.

The Benghazi attack has become a political issue for Republicans, who say President Barack Obama’s administration did not do enough to help the Americans in Benghazi and then focused on protecting Obama’s image during an election year.

The Kerry subpoena came a few days after Obama critics pounced on emails from U.S. officials released by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch on Tuesday. The group said the emails showed the White House was concerned primarily with image issues.

“The fact that these documents were withheld from Congress for more than 19 months is alarming,” Issa said in a letter to Kerry accompanying the subpoena. “The Department is not entitled to delay responsive materials because it is embarrassing or implicates the roles and actions of senior officials.”

Issa also said the State Department had shown “a disturbing disregard” for its obligations to Congress.

Benghazi also has political implications for Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time of the attack and is a likely presidential candidate in 2016.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, editing by Bill Trott and G Crosse)

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