GOP lifts subpoena after Benghazi auditor agrees to be deposed

Rep. Darrell Issa and Ambassador Thomas Pickering have reached a deal that will allow the diplomat to appear for a closed-door meeting with investigators for the congressman. 

The agreement led Issa (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to lift his subpoena on Pickering, who  who co-authored the State Department's independent report on the Benghazi attack. 

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“Today, Ambassador Pickering reached an agreement with the Oversight Committee to voluntarily appear for a transcribed interview and answer all questions posed by Committee investigators,” Issa said in a statement. “As such, I have lifted his legal obligation to appear tomorrow for a deposition. His appearance for a transcribed interview with Committee investigators has been rescheduled for a date in the near future.”

Republicans said last year's Accountability Review Board (ARB), which investigated the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, failed to interview then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and allowed higher-ups in the department to escape blame. 

Issa subpoenaed Pickering after he refused to appear for a closed-door, recorded deposition with Issa's staff. Pickering said he preferring to testify at an open hearing.


Republicans have repeatedly asked for the ARB and the State Department to release the list of witnesses the board spoke to as well as the notes taken during their depositions. The interviews were not recorded or transcribed.

One of the witnesses, the former deputy chief of mission in Libya at the time of the attacks, said he told the ARB that Clinton personally told Stevens to turn the Benghazi mission into a permanent U.S. post. That makes her responsible for the State Department's decisions to deny the embassy's requests for more security prior to the attack, Republicans say.

"Our investigation includes an examination of criticisms career State Department officials have made about the ARB report being 'incomplete' and letting senior officials 'off the hook,' " Issa said. "Ambassador Pickering's testimony will help the Committee's effort to learn about the board's work."

Issa said Pickering's ARB co-author, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen, would be invited to appear for a public hearing alongside Pickering soon after the deposition.

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