U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on Wednesday said that Gregory Hicks, former deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, had been treated well and praised for outstanding work for more than two decades only to see that change dramatically when Hicks cooperated with lawmakers investigating the Benghazi incident.
Jordan was particularly interested in reports that State Department lawyers told Hicks not to speak with Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, when Chaffetz traveled to Libya to investigate the incident. Hicks confirmed that he was told not to talk to Chaffetz.
“Has that ever happened where lawyers get on the phone to you prior to a congressional delegation coming to investigate a time when we’ve had four Americans lose their lives?” Jordan asked. “Have you ever had anyone tell you don’t talk with the people in Congress coming to find out what took place?”
“Never,” Hicks said.
Hicks said after he talked to congressional investigators in a closed hearing - which State Department lawyers were not permitted to attend because they did not have adequate security clearances - Cheryl Mills, the chief of staff for then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, called Hicks to express her displeasure. Hicks described Mills as being “very upset” and demanded that he give her a report on that visit.
“Here’s a guy with 22 years of outstanding service to our country - 22 years - outstanding service, praised by everybody who counts,” Jordan said. “The president, the secretary, everyone above him. Because he won’t help them cover this up - he’s an honorable man here telling the truth - now is getting this kind of treatment from the very people who praised him before.”
Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, meanwhile, wondered why special forces assigned to protect the embassy were told to stand down rather than intervene in the incident. Hicks said the four-person team - reduced from 14- had been reclassified as a training team in the months prior to the attack.
“I actually don’t know why,” Hicks said. “It was every reason to continue to believe that our personnel were in danger.”