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House chairman says Pompeo agreed to testify on Iran

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has agreed to testify about Iran before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the committee’s chairman said Tuesday, following weeks of effort to bring Pompeo before the panel.

“I spoke with Secretary Pompeo today who has committed to appearing before the Foreign Affairs Committee to testify at a hearing on Iran, Iraq, war powers and related topics—separate from our annual budget hearing,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said in a statement Tuesday. “I will announce a date for this hearing soon.”

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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On Friday, Engel invited Pompeo to appear before the committee Wednesday after he missed an earlier hearing on Iran while he was on an official trip to California.

In inviting Pompeo, Engel warned he was “prepared to use all legal means to ensure [his] attendance.”

Following Engel’s conversation with Pompeo, Wednesday’s hearing has now been postponed.

The committee has been requesting Pompeo testify at an open hearing following weeks of spiking tensions that brought the United States and Iran to the brink of war, and amid shifting explanations from the Trump administration on the justification for the U.S. drone strike that brought the confrontation to the brink.

Engel first invited Pompeo to a hearing in early January, but two days later the State Department announced Pompeo would be taking an official trip to California that overlapped with the hearing.

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In his letter to Pompeo on Friday, Engel said the hearing is meant to allow the administration to clarify its legal and policy justifications for the drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, as well as why the administration believes its so-called maximum pressure campaign against Iran will bring Tehran back to the negotiating table.

The committee would also like to ask about the future of U.S. efforts against ISIS after the Soleimani strike, Engel said. The strike, which took place on Iraqi soil, prompted officials in Baghdad to call for a U.S. troop withdrawal.

A trio of State Departments briefed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on U.S. policy toward Iran behind closed doors Tuesday. Democrats emerging from the briefing said it contained no new information clarifying the administration’s justification for the Soleimani strike.

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