Published May 13, 2013
WASHINGTON – Calls are growing for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to return to Capitol Hill -- under subpoena, if necessary -- to answer new questions that have surfaced about her role in the response to the Benghazi terror attack.
“I believe she was disconnected and dispassionate about what was happening,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa told Fox News on Monday.
During the interview, Issa kept the option of forcing Clinton to testify on the table.
Conservatives have challenged Clinton’s account of what happened and how it was presented to the public in light of recent details.
Specifically, lawmakers like Issa and New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte say they want Clinton on the record about her role in watering down a CIA memo about how the attacks started -- and whether she knew about the apparent lack of security at the foreign outpost.
“Maybe, just maybe, she knew,” Issa said.
It's unclear whether lawmakers would go so far as to subpoena the former secretary but they've suggested they'll do what it takes to bring her back to Capitol Hill, after she first testified in January.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R- S.C., suggested he was open to using subpoena power last week. "I hope she would come back without that, but yes," he said during an interview with USA Today. "I think she needs to come back and answer questions."
Former Vice President Dick Cheney also told Republicans during a meeting last week that they may need to subpoena Clinton to get more answers. "I think Hillary (Clinton) should be subpoenaed if necessary," Cheney said.
The Libya controversy could undermine Clinton’s case as a future presidential candidate – something her supporters say is the real reason behind the push to get her back in the Benghazi spotlight. President Obama also pushed back against the revived controversy on Monday, calling it a political "sideshow."
But Republicans rejected the charge as they sought new testimony from others. Issa sent letters Monday to the Benghazi Accountability Review Board (ARB) co-chairmen former Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen requesting that they submit to transcribed interviews in anticipation of a public hearing on the board’s investigation.
The letters come after three State Department officials described the report as “incomplete” and said that it let senior officials, like Clinton and her top staffers, “off the hook.”
Pickering defended his decision Sunday not to question Clinton because he said it had been concluded that the negligence that led to the attacks and the misinformation that followed was not her fault. Instead, he said the missteps were made by those working beneath her.
“We knew where the responsibility rested," Pickering told CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “They've tried to point a finger at people more senior than where we found the decisions were made."
Pickering said he and Mullen had to work within the legal scope of the investigation and that they “knew and understood” Clinton’s role based upon “talking to other people at meetings.”
But lawmakers still have questions about Clinton's role in everything from considering security requests to emphasizing the role of an anti-Islam film in the days after the attack.
Clinton reportedly told Charles Woods, the father of Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods who was killed in the attack, that the department would make sure to arrest and prosecute the maker of an anti-Islam film that had been linked to protests. Woods claimed on Glenn Beck’s online show that Clinton apologized for the attacks but said he “could tell that she was not telling me the truth.”
That was around the time U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice claimed the attack was a “spontaneous” reaction to demonstrations over the video. The administration even paid for an ad to run in Pakistan condemning the video.
According to news reports, the CIA’s version of the attacks changed 12 different times before being made public.
A resolution sponsored by Virginia Rep. Frank Wolf that calls on the House to form a special committee to investigate the terror attacks is gaining traction. More than 200 lawmakers have signed on to the cause.
Calls to the State Department for additional comment were not immediately returned.
Calls to Clinton’s spokesman were also not immediately returned.