Sep 11, 2020 - Politics & Policy

House Homeland Security panel subpoenas acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf speaks during a roundtable discussion on community safety, at Mary D. Bradford High School in in Kenosha, Wisconsin on September 1, 2020.

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

House Homeland Security Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) on Friday subpoenaed Chad Wolf, citing the DHS acting secretary's refusal to appear at a hearing next week on global threats.

Driving the news: A DHS official said it would be "inappropriate" for Wolf to appear at the Sept. 17 hearing due to his then-pending nomination for secretary of homeland security, per a letter to the panel earlier this week. The agency offered acting deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli to be present instead.

What they're saying: "Mr. Wolf's refusal to testify —thereby evading congressional oversight at this critical time — is especially troubling given the serious matters facing the Department and the Nation," Thompson said in a statement.

  • "Nineteen years after the attacks of 9/11, we continue to face grave threats to the homeland. From the coronavirus pandemic to the rise of right-wing extremism to ongoing election interference, there are urgent threats requiring our attention," he added.
  • "The Committee has not only the authority, but also an obligation to execute its Constitutional oversight responsibilities regarding Mr. Wolf's decision and the Department's actions in securing the homeland. As Chairman, I intend to ensure the Committee fulfills that responsibility."

The other side: Appearing on Fox News on Friday night, Wolf said he was "disappointed" by the subpoena.

  • "There's been longstanding practice that as you go up for a nomination, that you don't testify on other matters," Wolf said.
  • "We have offered the No. 2 at the Department of Homeland Security to testify in my place. And if not, then I’m happy to testify to the committee once my confirmation goes through one way or the other."

Worth noting: The House and Senate Intelligence Committees are investigating DHS based on a former senior officials' whistleblower complaint who alleges he was instructed to stop giving assessments on threats of Russian interference in the U.S. because it "made the president look bad."

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include the Department of Homeland Security's response.

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