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Issa Subpoenas State Department on Benghazi Talking Points

Rep. Darrell Issa isn’t done tracking down the case of the scrubbed Benghazi talking points — announcing Tuesday that he will subpoena more information from the State Department about exactly who in Foggy Bottom wanted them scrubbed.

The California Republican and Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman announced his plans to issue subpoenas to 10 current and former State Department officials for all “documents and communications referring or relating to the Benghazi talking points” that officials have refused to hand over as part of the congressional investigation into the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, and the aftermath.

“The documents the White House released on May 15, 2013, did not answer outstanding questions about who at the State Department, other than spokesperson Victoria Nuland, expressed reservations about certain aspects of the talking points,” including the CIA’s previous warnings to the State Department and links to extremists.

“The State Department has not lived up to the Administration’s broad and unambiguous promises of cooperation with Congress,” Issa wrote in a May 28 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry. “Therefore, I am left with no alternative but to compel the State Department to produce relevant documents through a subpoena … [that relate] to talking points prepared for Members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and used by [United Nations] Ambassador Susan Rice during her September 16, 2012, appearances by CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, and CNN.”

Rice was at one point President Barack Obama’s intended nominee to succeed then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Senate Republicans vowed to block her nomination if Obama decided to make it official, calling her untrustworthy for statements she made about the attack in the early aftermath. It derailed her chances to take on the post that ultimately went to Kerry.

With strong support from House Republican leadership, Issa has been leading the charge in the House to determine what oversight and leadership gaps might have caused the deaths of four embassy officials in Benghazi, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens.

Though his committee already held an hourslong hearing on the matter earlier this month, Issa’s decision to subpoena State Department officials signals something that political insiders might have already guessed: He won’t anytime soon be halting his pursuit for answers about the incident.

“The documents being withheld are crucial to the Committee’s investigation,” he wrote to Kerry.

According to the letter, the subpoena requires the State Department to turn over relevant documents and communications from officials by noon on June 7.

The list of officials is: William Burns, deputy secretary of State; Elizabeth Dibble, principal deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern Affairs; Beth Jones, acting assistant secretary for Near Eastern Affairs; Patrick Kennedy, undersecretary for management; Cheryl Mills, counselor and chief of staff to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; Thomas Nides, deputy secretary for management; Nuland; Philippe Reines, deputy assistant secretary of State; Jake Sullivan, director of policy planning; and David Adams, assistant secretary for State for legislative affairs.

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