POLITICS
05/23/2014 02:02 pm ET Updated May 23, 2014

John Kerry Agrees To Testify In Front Of Darrell Issa, But Not New Benghazi Committee

Secretary of State John Kerry has agreed to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attacks in Libya, a State Department official confirmed to The Huffington Post on Friday.

The decision to appear follows the creation of a separate special select committee tasked with investigating the attacks. Democrats believe the new committee is a political ploy ahead of a possible presidential run by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D).

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who chairs the Oversight Committee, issued two subpoenas for Kerry's appearance, the second of which called for a hearing on May 29. In a letter addressed to Issa on Friday, the State Department said Kerry is available to appear on June 12 or June 20.

A spokesman said later Friday that Issa accepted the secretary’s offer to testify before the committee on June 12.

"In doing so, we believe this would remove any need for the Secretary to appear before the Select Committee to answer additional questions," the State Department letter read.

Appearing on CNN, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the ranking Democrat on both committees, said Issa was trying to undermine the process by issuing the subpoenas.

"I think the speaker has lost control of Issa," he said. "Mr. Issa is trying to interject himself into the select committee's business."

Republicans have justified the new select committee by arguing that it would allow lawmakers to consolidate the facts in one place and provide an opportunity to address any outstanding concerns about the night of the attacks.

But the administration's move to grant Issa an appearance by Kerry likely aims to counter this argument by making it difficult to run a serious inquiry with the new select committee. It would legitimize one panel over the other and rebut House Speaker John Boener's (R-Ohio) pledge that the matter wouldn't devolve into a "circus."

Read the State Department letter below:

2014-05-23 Response Letter to Chairman Issa

This story has been updated to note that Issa accepted Kerry's offer to appear and to include a comment from Cummings.

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