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POLITICS: PennAve

John Kerry will not testify next week on Benghazi

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Politics,White House,Congress,John Kerry,National Security,Darrell Issa,Benghazi,PennAve,Susan Crabtree,State Department

The State Department and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are negotiating on a different date for Secretary of State John Kerry to testify about the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.

A State Department spokeswoman also held out hope that the panel would let Kerry off the hook and they could agree on a “more appropriate witness.”

Kerry was originally scheduled to be in Mexico on May 21, the date the oversight committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., subpoenaed him to testify about the administration's failure to hand over emails and other documents in a timely manner. The tentative agreement between the two sides allows him to move forward with his travel plans and relieves the immediate threat of a subpoena.

Jen Psaki, a State Department spokeswoman, said Monday night that the department and the committee "have been in touch to determine how to resolve their subpoena, but we have not yet made arrangements for a hearing date."

“Given the pressing foreign affairs issues that the secretary is actively engaged on and the committee's focus on document production issues, we would like to explore whether there are better means of addressing the committee's interests, including finding a more appropriate witness,” she said.

Issa spokesman Frederick Hill confirmed that the committee has lifted the subpoena obligation because the State Department has said it is "committed to finding an alternative date" for Kerry to testify.

"As such, Chairman Issa agreed to lift the subpoena obligation for May 21," Hill said.

He also said State Department officials have not mentioned another potential witness they want to testify instead of Kerry in their negotiations with the panel, and "the Committee expects Secretary Kerry to testify."

The oversight panel is moving forward with its Benghazi investigation even after the House created a new select committee to press the administration for more answers about the attack that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Democrats have yet to decide exactly how they will participate in the select committee and point to the multiple GOP inquiries as evidence that Republicans are continuing the try to highlight the matter for political gain before the November midterm elections.

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