House panel reschedules Kerry appearance

The House Oversight Committee said Monday they would find an alternative date for Secretary of State John Kerry to testify about the terror attack in Benghazi, after the Obama administration complained the subpoena issued by committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) fell on a date the secretary was scheduled to travel.

"The State Department has told the Committee that they are committed to finding an alternative date in the near future for Secretary Kerry to testify before the Oversight Committee," Frederick Hill, a spokesman for the panel, told the Associated Press.  "As such, Chairman Issa agreed to lift the subpoena obligation for May 21."

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Issa had originally demanded that Kerry appear before the panel that date to testify about newly released emails highlighting the role the White House had in preparing then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to appear on television interviews in the days after the attack.

The State Department said in a statement that Kerry was scheduled to be in Mexico on the day he was subpoenaed. 

“We 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,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki. 

“We look forward to addressing the matters raised in the Committee’s letter and subpoena. 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 through a more appropriate witness,” Psaki said.

The Oversight Committee subpoena is separate from a House select committee established earlier this month in response to the release of the controversial White House email. Republicans charge the email is evidence that the White House attempted to gloss over the cause of the violence, which left four Americans dead, ahead of the president’s reelection. The White House says the email was about broader violence in the region and proves nothing new.

Earlier Monday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called for unanimous consent to form a similar select committee in the Senate. Democrats thwarted that attempt.