House panel reinvites Pompeo to deliver Iran testimony

House panel reinvites Pompeo to deliver Iran testimony
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The Democratic-led House Foreign Affairs Committee has invited Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSusan Rice scolds Pompeo for using 'Wuhan virus' term Overnight Defense: Aircraft carrier captain pleads for help with outbreak | Pentagon shipment of ventilators delayed | Pompeo urges countries to be more 'transparent' with virus data US tells Maduro, Guaidó to 'step aside' in Venezuela MORE to another hearing on Iran after he missed the panel’s hearing this week while on an official trip to California.

“This hearing deals with the most weighty issues with which our country and Congress deal, including the use of force,” committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelHillicon Valley: Facebook reports huge spike in usage during pandemic | Democrats push for mail-in voting funds in coronavirus stimulus | Trump delays deadline to acquire REAL ID Lawmakers urge EU to sanction Putin associate for election interference Democrats press Pompeo to help Americans stranded abroad amid coronavirus MORE (D-N.Y.) wrote in a letter to Pompeo released Friday.

“Therefore, I consider your testimony to be of extremely high importance and am prepared to use all legal means to ensure your attendance,” Engel added. “I trust, however, that this will not be necessary.”

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The new hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Jan. 29.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill on whether Pompeo will attend.

Engel’s committee held a hearing on Iran this past Tuesday following weeks of spiking tensions that brought the United States and Iran to the brink of war, and amid shifting explanations from the Trump administration on the justification for the U.S. drone strike that brought the confrontation to the brink.

Engel invited Pompeo to the hearing a week beforehand. Two days later, the State Department announced Pompeo would be taking an official trip to California that overlapped with the hearing.

While in California, Pompeo delivered an address at Stanford University that talked about how the drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani was part of the administration’s effort to re-establish a strategy of deterrence regarding Iran.

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“I was particularly troubled by the fact that, rather than discuss urgent matters of war and peace with the State Department’s committee of jurisdiction, you announced after you had been invited to the January 14 hearing, you traveled to California to deliver a scripted speech on these same issue,” Engel wrote in his later, dated Thursday.

Engel said the hearing is meant to allow the administration to clarify its legal and policy justifications for the Soleimani strike, as well as why the administration believes its so-called maximum pressure campaign against Iran will bring Tehran back to the negotiating table.

The committee would also like to ask about the future of U.S. efforts against ISIS after the Soleimani strike, Engel said. The strike, which took place on Iraqi soil, prompted officials in Baghdad to call for a U.S. troop withdrawal.

“As the administration’s public face of this policy, your participation at this hearing is necessary so that the committee can conduct appropriate oversight and consider legislative alternatives related to the use of military force as well as the strategy and aims of American policy in Iran, Iraq, and the broader Middle East,” Engel wrote.