Top Dem: Benghazi panel interfering with Iran nuclear deal

Top Dem: Benghazi panel interfering with Iran nuclear deal
© Greg Nash

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) says the GOP-controlled House Select Committee on Benghazi is trying to undermine the Iran nuclear deal by scheduling a hearing at the same time Secretary of State Kerry is supposed to testify to the House.

Kerry is scheduled to appear before the House Foreign Affairs Committee next Tuesday morning to discuss the merits of the nuclear agreement. Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest Jeffrey MonizFormer diplomat Yovanovitch wins award for her work Al Franken to host SiriusXM radio show Two years after Harvey's devastation, the wake-up call has not been heeded MORE, who was involved in the negotiations, will also testify, as will Treasury Secretary Jack LewJacob (Jack) Joseph LewLobbying World Russian sanctions will boomerang Obama talks up Warren behind closed doors to wealthy donors MORE.

But the Benghazi panel wants Kerry's chief of staff, another major player in the talks, to testify before their panel on the same day.

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Cummings, the top Democrat on the Benghazi panel, blasted the request.

“Next week — on the same day Secretary Kerry will be testifying about the historic deal to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon — Republicans are demanding that his chief of staff, who spent months working on these negotiations, drop everything and testify before the Benghazi Select Committee on the pace of document production,” Cummings said Tuesday in a statement.

“This is either embarrassingly poor planning or a flimsy attempt by Republicans to scuttle the Iran deal. Either way, this is a preposterous abuse of authority,” he added.

Cummings cited a July 20 letter from the State Department stating Kerry’s chief of staff, Jon Finer, would not be able to appear before the 12-member Benghazi panel next week to discuss the agency’s document production.

“This will not be possible,” the department wrote to Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdySunday shows preview: 2020 Democrats jockey for top spot ahead of Nevada caucuses Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for week two of impeachment trial Green says House shouldn't hold impeachment articles indefinitely MORE (R-S.C.).

“The Secretary and his key staff who have been involved in the Iran issue for years must focus their efforts on this critical national security issue next week, and in particular on responding to the House and Senate’s questions and concerns,” the missive adds.

Cummings claimed that Gowdy scheduled the select committee’s only hearing after receiving State’s letter and said the chairman has threatened to issue a subpoena to compel Finer to appear.

Republicans have widely panned the deal and even some Democrats have expressed reservations, especially after the U.N. Security Council voted 15-0 in favor of the accord on Monday.