Kerry Won’t Chair Scheduled Clinton Benghazi Hearing

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to testify on the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi next week, if she doesn’t get sick, fall again, or suffer some other unfortunate event. However, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman and her nominated successor Senator John Kerry (D-MA) will not chair the hearing.

The Cable reports,

Kerry is in the unique position of being the chairman of the committee before which he will testify as part of his confirmation process to replace Clinton in Foggy Bottom. Although no final dates have been confirmed, Clinton is expected to testify on Benghazi Jan. 22, and Kerry’s confirmation hearing is expected to happen as soon as Jan. 23. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Kerry’s presumptive successor as SFRC chairman, is expected to chair both hearings.

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“Kerry will not preside over the Benghazi hearing because he doesn’t want to put his colleagues in an awkward situation. Also, he already presided over a Benghazi hearing last month,” a committee aide told The Cable. “Senator Kerry will remain SFRC chair until he is confirmed.”

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Committee sources told The Cable that Kerry’s decision not to resign as committee chair before he is confirmed is based on two calculations. First of all, he doesn’t want to appear presumptive, just in case he is not confirmed, although he is widely expected to sail through. Secondly, if for some reason he is not confirmed, Kerry would want to retain his committee chairmanship as a fallback plan.

According to ranking member of the SFRC, Bob Corker (R-TN), the Clinton hearing on Benghazi should begin on January 22.

I had some very good conversations with her chief of staff,” Corker, ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. Corker noted that committee Chairman Bob Menendez, D-N.J., will set the schedule, but added, “My sense is, Andrea, that her hearing probably will take place the morning of the 22nd.”

He added, “I think they feel she’s going to be healthy enough to come in that day.”

Corker’s statement marks the first time a date has been given for Clinton’s much-anticipated testimony following her illness and absence from office.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said today, “The secretary is going through all the steps this department is taking to implement the recommendations of the Accountability Review Board.”

Kerry’s confirmation to become Secretary of State has been threatened by Republican Senators until Clinton testifies. Other appointment confirmations by the Senate have been threatened until questions are answered by Clinton on Benghazi such as Chuck Hagel’s appointment as Defense Secretary and John Brennan’s appointment as the head of the Central Intelligence Agency.

I suppose we’ll see if we get any real answers from Clinton. I’m not expecting much in this except more political theater.

UPDATE: I was reminded that January 22 is also the date the Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is set to introduce her “assault weapons ban” bill before the Senate. Let’s keep our eye on both issues. We can’t let either of these get past us and there is no doubt that the administration is orchestrating one to divert attention from the other.

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