Republican lawmakers are ordering Ben Rhodes, the assistant secretary of defense for strategic communications, to testify before the House after he insinuated that the Obama administration misled the public during debate over the Iran nuclear agreement.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said he would subpoena Rhodes if he refused to appear before the committee next Tuesday morning, The Hill reported Thursday.
Rhodes has not responded to the order, committee spokeswoman M.J. Henshaw said. The hearing, about "White House narratives on the Iran nuclear deal," is set for May 17 at 10 a.m.
Rhodes came under fire from GOP lawmakers following a candid New York Times Magazine profile quoting the speechwriter admitting the administration created an "echo chamber" when marketing the controversial Iran nuclear accord.
The piece portrayed Rhodes as a "more effective and powerful extension" of Obama’s foreign policy desires than most of the president's advisers and cabinet members.
White House spokesman Eric Shultz charged that Republicans were attempting to reignite the battle over the Iran agreement by forcing a hearing.
"The Iran deal was debated and scrutinized for months last year. Republicans had vowed to block it, could not muster the votes to do so, and are now seeking to relitigate that old political fight," Schultz said in a statement. "The facts and substance of the Iran deal are not in question -- it has done exactly what we said it would, and the world is a safer place for it."
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D., Md.), the oversight committee’s top Democrat, hit Republicans for what he characterized as a "partisan rush to attack" Rhodes "just to chase cheap headlines."