Rep. Issa subpoenas Benghazi auditor Thomas Pickering

The lawmaker leading the charge to investigate the Benghazi, Libya, terror attack on Friday subpoenaed the co-author of a report that slammed the State Department but didn't interview Hillary Clinton.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) formally demanded that retired Ambassador Thomas Pickering submit to being deposed by the committee next Thursday.

The subpoena comes in the wake of a series of acrimonious public exchanges this week between the two men. Issa didn't issue a subpoena to former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen, who co-authored the Benghazi report with Pickering.

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Pickering has said he would testify before Issa's panel about last year's Accountability Review Board (ARB) report on the attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Pickering and Mullen have refused, however, to submit to a transcribed interview with Issa and his staff, calling the closed-door proceeding an “inappropriate precondition” to their testimony.

“Your refusal to allow staff investigators to interview you is inconsistent with your commitment to be 'tough and transparent',” Issa wrote to Pickering. “In light of your continuing refusal to appear voluntarily for a transcribed interview … I have found it necessary to issue a subpoena to compel your appearance at a deposition.”


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The subpoena comes after Issa held a hearing last week with three State Department whistle-blowers who said Pickering's board “let people off the hook.” Issa said the deposition is the only way to find out who exactly the ARB interviewed when investigating the security failures and missed warnings the preceded the attack.

Pickering and Mullen did not interview Clinton, then secretary of State, when they conducted the audit of Benghazi.

At a State Department briefing last year, Pickering defended the ARB's approach. He said the panel fixed responsibility “at the Assistant Secretary level, which is in our view the appropriate place to look, where the decision-making in fact takes place — where, if you like, the rubber hits the road.”

The top Democrat on Issa's panel called the subpoena of Pickering a “stark example of extreme Republican overreach and the shameful politicization of this tragedy.”

“Chairman Issa’s accusations keep getting shot down one by one, but he simply resorts to even more extreme measures,” Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said in a statement.

“After falsely accusing former Secretary Clinton of lying to Congress, falsely accusing the White House of deliberately misleading the American people, and falsely accusing the military of withholding critical assistance on the night of the attacks, the Chairman is now accusing Admiral Mullen, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Ambassador Pickering, a seven-time U.S. ambassador, of being complicit in a cover-up.”

— This story was last updated at 3:51 p.m.

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