House Oversight Chairman Darrel Issa accused the chairman of the board that investigated the failures at the State Department that led to Benghazi of having conflicts of interest that impeded him from doing an adequate job.
Former Ambassador Thomas Pickering, who chaired the Accountability Review Board (ARB), testified Thursday before the Oversight Committee alongside ARB vice chair Admiral Mike Mullen, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Republicans have raised a variety of concerns over the ARB report, in part because it did not talk to a number of high-ranking state Department officials, including then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and in part because they felt the members of the ARB were biased.
Pickering testified that that was not at all the case.
“I had no sense anywhere that there was any conflict of interest,” he said. “I spent 42 years in the State Department. I knew many of the officers concerned. I have to tell you full, fair and free, this was not an exercise in any personal sense of debt or obligation to any of those people. I believe that the comments on the report that it was hard-hitting, that it called the shots the way it should have, in my view is the best summation of what we tried to do free of political influence, free of conflict, and I’m proud of the report, sir.”