House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) sent a five-page letter, along with subpoena demanding documents related to the crafting of talking points on Benghazi, to Secretary of State John Kerry. However, the question now arises whether or not Kerry will be compliant. During Wednesday’s daily press briefing with State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki, the issue came up. Pick up the video at the 36:15 mark.
Though Kerry promised that that State department, under his leadership, would be “accountable and open,” it seems that it has been anything but that. In fact, Issa’s letter pointed that out. He wrote:
On May 20th 2013, the State Department responded to our May 15, 2013, document request by forwarding those 100 pages to the committee, with a cover letter that explained the documents included “the e-mails and other documents created by State Department personnel in connection with their participation in the interagency process led by the CIA to prepare the talking points in question.”
Aside from the fact that it consisted entirely of documents that had been released to the press five days earlier, the State Department’s response was incomplete. The State Department’s response failed to acknowledge that we requested all communications related to the talking points, to or from nine State Department officials.
When asked by a reporter during the press briefing on Wednesday about the subpoena and what the State Department’s reaction to it is, how they would respond and if they would meet the June 7th deadline to supply the documents to Issa’s committee, Psaki said, “Well, let me just remind everyone since given the opportunity that we have demonstrated unprecedented – an unprecedented degree of cooperation with Congress on the issue of Benghazi, engaging now in nearly 40 hearings, briefing members of staff, and – members and staff – and sharing over 25,000 pages of documents with committees.”
“On this specific issue, you’ll recall that a hundred pages of documents on the talking points were released just weeks ago,” she continued. “They were inclusive of the emails around this issue, and from our perspective, the CIA-led interagency process, as we now know through which these talking points were developed, has been thoroughly addressed publicly.”
Psaki added, “But of course, we remain committed, as we have consistently been, to working with Congress, and we are taking stock of this recent subpoena and determining the next appropriate steps.”
A follow up question was asked as to what documents were being subpoenaed since there were hundreds of pages of emails that had previously been released. However, we pointed out that those emails began on September 14, 2012. I would assume that Issa is requesting everything before that date related to Benghazi. Psaki said told the reporter she would have to ask Issa just what he was requesting.
Psaki also went on to say that Kerry had not responded to the subpoena or the letter, but was simply “determining the next appropriate steps.
After that comment, the reporter wanted to clarify that the State Department has not yet determined whether it will comply with the Congressional subpoena or not. Psaki responded, “That’s correct. But we have provided, just as a reminder, of course, a hundred pages of documents on the talking points that this is regarding.”
This is like saying that we gave you some of what you wanted, but not everything you requested. Three days after the fact is not what is needed, though it was quite telling. What is needed is all communication from September 11, 2012, or even before, to September 14, 2012. The fact that the State Department cannot provide an explicit “Yes, we will comply” indicates that they are going to try and pull an Eric Holder. Will we end up witnessing Congress holding Secretary John Kerry in contempt this year?
Tim Brown is the Editor of Freedom Outpost and a regular contributor to The D.C. Clothesline.