Kerry agrees to testify on Benghazi attack in front of House committee

BY Sam Lane  May 23, 2014 at 3:40 PM EDT
Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

Secretary of State John Kerry said he is willing to testify before the House Oversight committee on the attacks on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

In a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the committee’s chairman, the State Department said Kerry will be unable to appear on May 29, the date of the committee’s subpoena. But he will be available on June 12 and June 20, the department said.

Later on Friday, Issa accepted Kerry’s June 12 offer, Politico reported.

“As the State Department has moved away from pushing the committee to accept an alternative witness, Chairman Issa accepted the secretary’s offer to testify on June 12,” Issa spokesman Frederick Hill said, according to Politico. “The committee looks forward to his appearance.”

The State Department said Kerry’s appearance at the House Oversight panel would eliminate the need for him to testify before the new special select committee investigating the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission, the AP reported.

“This has to be a situation where it doesn’t go on forever and ever and where he testifies once on it, doesn’t continually get asked the same questions over and over again,” State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf said Friday afternoon. “They need to figure out, you know, how they’re going to handle oversight of this issue and who will have — and where they want to use their resources and how they want to call witnesses and whether Oversight does, whether the select committee does. That’s an issue that their caucus has to decide.”

The attack killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Earlier this week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi named five Democrats to serve on the special Benghazi panel. That committee held its first formal meetings on Thursday.