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U.S. lawmaker critical of Obama on Benghazi sets trip to Libya

Committee Chairman U.S. Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) holds a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on alleged target
Committee Chairman U.S. Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) holds a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on alleged target

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Republican Representative Darrell Issa, a leader of the congressional charge to investigate the Obama administration's handling of the Benghazi attacks, is scheduled to travel to Libya next week as part of the probe, according to documents made public on Friday.

An itinerary for the trip said Issa was leaving on Sunday for a trip to Libya that may include a visit to the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli and a working lunch.

It did not say whether Issa, chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, would travel to Benghazi, where the U.S. ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans were killed by militants on September 11, 2012.

Details on the trip were not available, including security arrangements.

Republicans and Democrats have been waging a political battle over Benghazi since the attacks.

Both parties say the incident exposed security lapses that must be addressed. But many Republicans accuse Democrats of a coverup to protect President Barack Obama as he ran for re-election, and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, considered a leading 2016 Democratic presidential candidate.

Issa's office declined to comment on the matter, including a complaint from committee Democrats that the planned trip would violate rules he put in place when he became the panel's chairman in April 2011.

Those rules included a stipulation that all committee-authorized foreign travel be bipartisan, which would be impossible in this case because Democrats learned of the trip only two days before it was due to begin, Elijah Cummings, the senior Democrat on the panel, wrote in a letter.

"Although you claim that your investigation of the Benghazi attacks is bipartisan, your efforts to secretly plan an official trip to Libya - and then deliberately exclude Democrats from joining - is part of an unfortunate pattern of partisanship that undermines the credibility of this investigation," he wrote.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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