Apr 6, 2021 - Politics & Policy

House and Senate to hold annual worldwide threats hearings canceled under Trump

Mark Warner and Marco Rubio

Sens. Mark Warner (L) and Marco Rubio, both members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, at the Atlantic Council in 2018. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Senate and House intelligence committees will hold their annual hearings on worldwide threats on April 14 and 15, respectively, the panels announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: The Senate hearing was shelved last year after intelligence officials pushed for it to be held entirely behind closed doors, reportedly over concerns about contradicting former President Trump in public. The House Intelligence Committee, home to some of the Trump era's most intense partisan battles, has not held such a hearing since 2017.

  • In 2019, Trump attacked his top intelligence chiefs for testifying that Iran was "technically" in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, tweeting that they should "go back to school!"
  • Congress included a provision in a government spending bill passed late last year that requires the director of national intelligence (DNI) to submit an annual Worldwide Threats Assessment and testify about it in public.

Details: The hearings will feature testimony from DNI Avril Haines, CIA Director William Burns, FBI Director Christopher Wray, NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier.

What they're saying: House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) called the hearings "particularly timely," noting "rapidly evolving threats" that include the "rising great power competition with China, an increased threat from domestic violent extremism, nuclear dangers arising from nations like Iran and North Korea, and destabilizing impacts of cross-border threats like climate change and pandemic disease."

  • "Over the last four years, the Trump administration discarded the tradition of open hearings on worldwide threats, when it displeased the former president to have his preferred views of rival nations contradicted by agency heads," Schiff added.
  • "I am gratified to see the important practice of open hearings return under the Biden administration, and the willingness to speak truth to power."
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