House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen suggested Monday that subpoenas might be used to force Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to testify about the attack in Benghazi, Libya if she continues to remain unavailable to testify before Congress.
Appearing on Fox News' "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren," Ros-Lehtinen expressed frustration at what she described as the State Department's "utter silence" on events leading up to the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate and Clinton's apparent decision not to have anyone testify in her place this week on Capitol Hill.
Clinton is traveling in Australia and elsewhere abroad this week, a trip that was scheduled but that Ros-Lehtinen suggested is not important.
"We think that it is only fitting and fair . . . to bring up the secretary of state because this was a consulate. This was part of the State Department operations," the Florida Republican said, adding that she wants to hear from Clinton in public "about what happened so that we can prevent another Benghazi from taking place again."
"Now, what has been the State Department's response?," she continued. "First utter silence, and then the secretary goes off to a trip to Australia to coordinate their defense cuts, which is of utmost importance to the United States for some reason. And so she's not being made available to our committee, nor will she send anyone in her place."
Ros-Lehtinen said State Department has offered to give classified briefings instead because "they want me to not have this open hearing." But she said she plans "to have it anyway," adding that it will focus on testimony from "retired CIA security agents" about what she described as "the lack of security throughout State Department embassies and consulates."
"We want answers, and we're going to see if we can cooperate with the State Department and have Hillary Clinton finally show up, perhaps by the end of this month, in an open public hearing," the Congresswoman added. "We're fine with the classified briefing, but that is no substitute for the answers that the public demands."
Asked about the possible subpoena if an agreement on testimony can't be worked out with Clinton, Ros-Lehtinen said, "Absolutely."
She added that a number of key committees have raised that possibility as briefings and hearings on Benghazi begin this week in both the House and Senate.
"We're going to coordinate and see what we can do, because the time has come for answers," she said.
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