Kerry Says He’ll Cooperate With Benghazi Subpoena: ‘Absolutely Nothing to Hide’

By Patrick Goodenough | May 7, 2014 | 4:12 AM EDT

Secretary of State John Kerry and E.U. foreign policy chief Cathy Ashton at the State Department on May 6, 2014. (Photo: State Department/Twitter)

( – Secretary of State John Kerry indicated Tuesday that he would cooperate with a new congressional oversight committee hearing on Benghazi, but indirectly criticized its chairman for issuing a subpoena rather than simply inviting him to appear.

“We’ll respond, because we have absolutely nothing to hide whatsoever, and I look forward to complying with whatever responsibilities we have,” Kerry told reporters after meeting in Washington with European Union foreign policy chief Cathy Ashton.

Kerry said during his more than 28 years in the U.S. Senate, a career that included chairing “a major committee” – the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, from 2009-2013 – “I don’t think I ever issued a subpoena to somebody that I hadn’t first invited to come and speak. I think this sort of speaks for itself, frankly.”

Kerry implicitly questioned the need for further hearings.

“I think everybody needs to take a hard look at – and sort of measure what’s been already put out there versus where this effort is going,” he said. “And you see a very partisan response on the Hill with respect to it.”

On Friday, while Kerry was in Africa, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) issued a subpoena for him to appear before a May 21 hearing on the State Department’s compliance with requests for information on the Sept. 2012 terror attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

The department said at the time Kerry was already scheduled to visit Mexico on that day. On Tuesday, less than an hour before Kerry’s appearance with Ashton, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the secretary still planned to be in Mexico on May 21.

U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, foreign service officer Sean Smith and security personnel Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed when terrorists attacked the mission in Libya’s second city on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 al-Qaeda attack on America.

The administration denies allegations that it sought to mislead Americans about the nature of the incident, attributing it to demonstrating Muslims angered by a video disparaging Mohammed rather than to Islamist terrorists.

The emergence last week of previously-unreleased administration documents relevant to the episode stoked the controversy anew.

The HOGR committee has held four public hearings relating to Benghazi, in October 2012, May 2013, September 2013 and last Thursday. Other House and Senate committees have also held public and closed hearings, and House Speaker John Boehner on Friday announced he will appoint a select committee to investigate Benghazi.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow