John KerryJohn KerryNew York Knicks owner gave 0K to pro-Trump group A bold, common sense UN move for the Trump administration Former Obama officials say Netanyahu turned down secret peace deal: AP MORE will immediately have to deal with the aftermath of his predecessor's biggest crisis, the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, when he starts his first day at the State Department on Monday.
At least three congressional panels are planning further hearings on the terrorist attack that killed U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
And Republican lawmakers are still demanding that the agency answer questions about the lack of security at the U.S. mission in Libya as well as the inaccurate initial description of the attack.
“I think (Republican lawmakers) are entirely optimistic about working with Mr. Kerry,” said one Republican aide. “I certainly think we'll be engaging with him as well.”
The Senate Armed Services Committee, led by Sen. Carl LevinCarl LevinA package proposal for repatriation Silencing of Warren another example of hyperpartisan Senate GOP going nuclear over Gorsuch might destroy filibuster forever MORE (D-Mich.), will host the first Benghazi hearing of the Kerry era, tentatively scheduled for Thursday. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will testify, an aide told The Hill, a condition Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamThe Hill's 12:30 Report Back to the future: Congress should look to past for Fintech going forward CNN to host town hall featuring John McCain, Lindsey Graham MORE (R-S.C.) had demanded in exchange for not blocking the nomination of former Sen. Chuck HagelChuck HagelWho will temper Trump after he takes office? Hagel: I’m ‘encouraged’ by Trump’s Russia outreach Want to 'drain the swamp'? Implement regular order MORE (R-Neb.) to replace Panetta.
Levin and his former Republican counterpart, Sen. John McCainJohn McCainFather of slain Navy SEAL wants investigation A stronger NATO for a safer world Drug importation won't save dollars or lives MORE (R-Ariz.), want the hearing to focus on the Pentagon's role in the attack, notably the lack of military response.
“We've got planes, ships, all kinds of things all over the Mediterranean,” said McCain. “And obviously a seven-hour period went by without any capability of getting any of those assets to the scene of the attack.”
Sen. James InhofeJames InhofeA guide to the committees: Senate GOP considers ways to ‘modernize’ endangered species law GOP bill would eliminate Consumer Financial Protection Bureau MORE (R-Okla.), who has taken over from McCain as ranking member on the committee, has other plans however. He told The Hill he wants the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, and former CIA Director David Petraeus to testify about the intelligence talking points that initially linked the attack on a protest gone awry.
“I can't speak for Carl [Levin] or for any of the rest of them, but my concern will be to bring out the fact that in my opinion this is the greatest single cover-up in the history of America,” he said. “I'm talking about the Pentagon Papers, Iran-Contra.”
The House oversight panel is also preparing for additional hearings on the security situation, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) told The Hill recently.
Issa , the panel’s chairman, and six Republican colleagues on the committee – Reps. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), Scott DeJarlais (R-Tenn.), Paul GosarPaul GosarA guide to the committees: House Trump administration doesn't care about the housing needs of low-income people Freedom Caucus meets with senators on ObamaCare replacement MORE (R-Ariz.), Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), John Mica (R-Fla.) and Blake FarentholdBlake FarentholdA guide to the committees: House Why Republicans took aim at an ethics watchdog Report on warrantless surveillance shows Congress must update privacy laws MORE (R-Texas) – recently visited embassies across North Africa and the Middle East to survey their security needs and protocols.
And the new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), vowed to make Benghazi a priority when he was named chairman.
Kerry himself has vowed to implement the recommendations of a bipartisan review board that issued a report on Benghazi in December.
“There are certain things I intend to issue instructions on the minute I come in,” Kerry told The Boston Globe in an interview Thursday. “I won’t go into the details, but Benghazi, embassy security, issues regarding some of the analysis that I want to track with respect to Iran, with respect to Syria. Trouble spots.”
Issa, Royce and Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzTrump's first dinner out in DC: His own hotel DC residents back Utah rep's primary challenger If Democrats want to take back the White House start now MORE (R-Utah), the chairman of the oversight subpanel on national security, also partnered on a letter this week asking the State Department to clarify the role played by Clinton and her two deputies in providing for security in Libya.
It also asks the department to explain why a security team was pulled out of the country shortly before the attack and why the mission in Benghazi remained open despite the increasingly volatile situation.
Finally, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) and Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulConquering Trump returns to conservative summit Rand Paul rejects label of 'Trump's most loyal stooge' GOP healthcare plans push health savings account expansion MORE (R-Ky.), who said last week Clinton should have been fired over Benghazi, are collecting signatures on a letter demanding that Congress open an investigation into the attack. The letter faults the State Department for the talking points and for blaming a lack of congressional funding for the lack of security in Benghazi.
“This is not a money problem,” the letter states. “It is a leadership and management problem entrenched within the State Department.”