Review Board Co-Chair and Issa Still in Discussions on Benghazi Testimony

Former Ambassador Thomas Pickering said  Government Executive that “discussions are ongoing, and it is my hope to reach firm arrangements shortly.” Former Ambassador Thomas Pickering said Government Executive that “discussions are ongoing, and it is my hope to reach firm arrangements shortly.” Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP file photo

The top House oversight chairman on Wednesday announced that former Ambassador Thomas Pickering, co-chair of the State Department’s independent Accountability Review Board, has agreed to voluntarily appear for a transcribed interview with congressional staff. But Pickering told Government Executive that “discussions are ongoing, and it is my hope to reach firm arrangements shortly.”

Last week, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., subpoenaed Pickering for a deposition after he declined to voluntarily meet with staff in closed-door sessions, proposing instead to testify only at a public hearing, on a date still to be set.

"Today, Ambassador Pickering reached an agreement with the Oversight Committee to voluntarily appear for a transcribed interview and answer all questions posed by committee investigators,” Issa said in a press release. “As such, I have lifted his legal obligation to appear [on Thursday] for a deposition. His appearance for a transcribed interview with committee investigators has been rescheduled for a date in the near future."

Issa continued: "I appreciate his decision to cooperate on a voluntary basis with our committee's investigation of the Benghazi attack. Our investigation includes an examination of criticisms career State Department officials have made about the ARB report being 'incomplete' and letting senior officials 'off the hook.' ” To date, Issa added, “this effort has been limited by the State Department's unwillingness to provide critical documents. This transcribed interview will help the committee prepare for a public hearing with the ambassador and his ARB co-chair Adm. Michael Mullen."

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