Sep 17, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Homeland Security chief defies House subpoena to testify

Chad Wolf.

Chad Wolf. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf defied a subpoena on Thursday to testify before the House Homeland Security Committee about worldwide threats to the U.S.

The big picture: The committee subpoenaed Wolf after he reneged on a commitment to testify on Sept. 8 and claimed it would be inappropriate to do so until he has been confirmed by the Senate.

  • The appearance would have come at a time of heightened scrutiny for Wolf, after a federal judge ruled he is likely unlawfully serving in his role and barred him from imposing new asylum restrictions.
  • Wolf is also facing a whistleblower report that claims he ordered officials to "cease providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference" and instead focus on China and Iran.

What they're saying: "Mr. Wolf may attempt to evade oversight and the Department may try silly stunts to distract from this hearing, but we will not waver. The stakes are just too high," committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said in an opening statement.

  • "Indeed, former department officials — the administration’s own political appointees — are coming forward to sound the alarm that our Nation’s security is being compromised in favor of the President’s political interests," he added.

The other side: A DHS spokesperson tweeted that Democrats on the committee refused the agency's "multiple offers to have a senior department official," including acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, appear on Wolf's behalf.

  • Cuccinelli condemned the committee's Democrats in a news release on Wednesday, writing that "pending nominees don’t testify to other committees as their nomination is pending."
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