By Julian Pecquet - 10/10/12 03:11 PM EDT
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said Wednesday he won't rule out asking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to testify as he begins probing security lapses at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
The chairman of the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform panel made the remarks on Fox News shortly before the start of the first hearing on the State Department's rejection of requests for more security personnel in Libya. Clinton has not been asked to testify Wednesday, but the hearing could prove to be just the opening salvo of an investigation into her State Department as Republicans seek to paint Obama as a weak leader ahead of the November election.
“If it leads to areas in which she is a ... witness, of course she will” be asked to testify, Issa told "America's Newsroom." “In general we start as we did here with the whistle-blower and then we work up, down and sideways to get to the truth.”
Issa's comments come as senior State Department officials confirmed last night the attack in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans didn't grow out of a protest against a U.S.-made anti-Islam film posted on YouTube, as the administration initially claimed.
“At the highest levels of our government ... they knew this was a terrorist attack as it was happening,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told the show shortly before Issa spoke. “I think this speaks to the character of this administration. I think they know the president is very vulnerable with his mission accomplished, spiking the football regarding Osama bin Laden.”
Corker, who is in line to become the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made the remarks shortly after returning from a fact-finding mission to Libya.
Issa also had harsh words for the administration, despite praising Clinton's cooperation so far. He singled out the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, for tying the attack to the video on the Sunday shows days after Stevens's death.
“That becomes the real question of why in the world would an ambassador make a statement that was not supported even a few hours after the attack, and certainly wasn't supported a day, two days or in this case five days after the attack,” Issa said. “Certainly we are going to get to the bottom of ambassador Rice's false statement.”