John KerryJohn KerryCongress, Trump need a united front to face down Iran One year ago today we declared ISIS atrocities as genocide Trump’s realism toward Iran is stabilizing force for Middle East 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 LevinDevin Nunes has jeopardized the oversight role of Congress Ted Cruz wants to destroy the Senate as we know it A package proposal for repatriation 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 GrahamGraham: 'I'm glad' Ivanka will be working in the White House Trump tweets promotion for Fox News show GOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (R-S.C.) had demanded in exchange for not blocking the nomination of former Sen. Chuck HagelChuck HagelSenators tear into Marines on nude photo scandal Lobbying World Who will temper Trump after he takes office? MORE (R-Neb.) to replace Panetta.
Levin and his former Republican counterpart, Sen. John McCainJohn McCainMcCain: Trump admin must fill State Dept. jobs McCain says he hasn't met with Trump since inauguration Overnight Defense: General warns State Department cuts would hurt military | Bergdahl lawyers appeal Trump motion | Senators demand action after nude photo scandal 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 InhofeRepeal of Obama drilling rule stalls in the Senate GOP senator: EPA 'brainwashing our kids' A guide to the committees: Senate 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 GosarHouse votes to begin debate on healthcare bill; six Republicans defect Live coverage: House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill GOP lawmakers leave Trump White House with no deal MORE (R-Ariz.), Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), John Mica (R-Fla.) and Blake FarentholdBlake FarentholdOvernight Energy: Backlash to Trump’s proposed EPA cuts grows Watchdog piles on criticism of offshore drilling regulator Federal court: Texas House districts must be redrawn 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 ChaffetzSecret Service agents set for discipline after fence-jumping incident: report Overnight Cybersecurity: House Intel chair says surveillance collected on Trump transition team House Oversight grills law enforcement on facial recognition tech 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 PaulTrump, GOP fumble chance to govern GOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill Rand Paul takes victory lap on GOP health bill 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.”