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Cummings Condemns “Extreme Republican Overreach” on Benghazi

May 17, 2013
Press Release

Washington D.C.—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued the following statement regarding the decision by Chairman Darrell Issa to go back on his commitment to hold a public hearing with Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Admiral Michael Mullen, who led the Accountability Review Board that examined security in Benghazi, and instead issue a subpoena to compel Ambassador Pickering to appear at a private, closed-door deposition with staff:

“Today’s subpoena is 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.  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. 

“Both Admiral Mullen and Ambassador Pickering have made clear that they stand ready and willing to testify at a public hearing to respond directly to these reckless accusations, but Chairman Issa is now imposing new conditions to keep them behind closed doors.  The Chairman should reverse his decision, conduct a responsible and bipartisan investigation, and allow the American people to hear directly from these officials.”

Ambassador Pickering has served a distinguished diplomatic career spanning five decades, including as U.S. Ambassador to six countries and to the United Nations, under both Democratic and Republican Administrations.

Admiral Mullen has served a similarly distinguished military career, culminating in his service as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  He has also served both Democratic and Republican Administrations.

During the Committee’s hearing on May 8, 2013, Cummings confirmed on the record that Issa had agreed to a public hearing the night before.  Since then, however, Issa has imposed new conditions that would require Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen to submit to closed interviews with Issa’s staff before allowing any public testimony.

Yesterday, Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen sent a second letter of their own requesting the opportunity to testify before the Committee at a public hearing and to answer questions directly from Members of Congress.

On Monday, Cummings wrote to Issa reiterating his request for a public hearing so Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen could provide information about their investigation and respond directly to serious charges leveled against them over the past week by congressional Republicans.

113th Congress