Benghazi: Is Rep. Darrell Issa 'going rogue' on attack probe?

Darrell Issa subpoenaed Secretary of State Kerry to testify on Benghazi, but Speaker Boehner had designated a different House panel to serve as the central organization for the continued probe.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP/File
House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, in April. Issa has reissued his subpoena demanding that Secretary of State John Kerry testify about documents provided to Congress about the deadly 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya.

Is Rep. Darrell Issa (R) of California, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, “going rogue” with his ongoing investigation of Benghazi? That’s what his minority party counterpart and sometime-nemesis, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D) of Maryland, insists.

At issue is whether Chairman Issa should have subpoenaed Secretary of State John Kerry to testify before his panel. After all, Secretary Kerry was Senator Kerry at the time of the attack on the US buildings in Benghazi, Libya. Given that, the subpoena was “very political,” said Representative Cummings on MSNBC’s “Politics Nation with Al Sharpton.”

Cummings said that it appears Issa wants to question Kerry about why the committee isn’t getting Benghazi documents as fast as he’d like.

“It would have been far more effective to bring in the custodian of records,” Cummings told Sharpton.

Perhaps that’s true. But it might also be true that the person who should be most upset about the Kerry subpoena is not Kerry but Rep. Trey Gowdy (R) of South Carolina, the chairman of the newly created special House committee on the Benghazi attacks.

By issuing a subpoena to Kerry, Issa in essence allowed the secretary of State to cherry-pick his venue for Benghazi-related testimony. Rather than opt for the special committee, which House Speaker John Boehner wants to serve as the central organization for continued Benghazi probes, Kerry went for the appearance before the more mercurial Issa. He’s agreed to testify June 12.

“What better way to needle the GOP over its pet obsession than by giving the committee chairman they had hoped to banish an opportunity to create some theater?” writes Jed Lewison at Daily Kos.

However, we’ll note that if the Democrats think the GOP can’t figure out how to issue more than one such subpoena per year, they’re wrong. It’s quite possible Congressman Gowdy may just wait on such a request, if need be.

Also, Wednesday’s State Department statement urging US citizens to flee Libya because of its increasingly dangerous internal conflict perhaps brings the country and Benghazi back into the headlines. That is what Ed Morrissey says at the right-leaning Hot Air, in any case.

Morrissey writes that Democrats are simply stonewalling continued GOP efforts to investigate the Sept. 11, 2012 attack, which left four Americans, including the US ambassador, dead.

“Good luck with that approach as news reports of the evacuation start appearing on American television,” writes Morrissey.

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