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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."

Go deeper

Dec 3, 2020 - World

U.S. blocks cotton imports from China's Xinjiang region over forced labor

A farmer harvests cotton in a field in October in Hami, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of China. Photo: Pulati Niyazi/VCG via Getty Images

The Trump administration announced Wednesday the U.S. will block imports of cotton products from the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of China because of forced labor concerns.

Why it matters: The plan to seize the cotton shipments from a powerful Chinese quasi-military group is the latest U.S. response to China's detention of over 1 million Uighur Muslims in internment camps.

Updated 20 mins ago - World

Skripal poisoning suspects linked to Czech blast, as country expels 18 Russians

Combined images released by British police in 2018 of Alexander Petrov (L) and Ruslan Boshirov, who are suspected of carrying out an attack in the in the southern English city of Salisbury using Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent, and also the2014 Czech depot explosion. Photo: Metropolitan Police via Getty Images

Czech police on Saturday connected two Russian men suspected of carrying out a poisoning attack in Salisbury, England, with a deadly ammunition depot explosion southeast of the capital, Prague, per Reuters.

Driving the news: Czech officials announced Saturday they're expelling 18 Russian diplomats they accuse of being involved in the blast in Vrbětice, AP notes. Czech police said later they're searching for two men carrying several passports — including two named Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

Indianapolis mass shooting suspect legally bought 2 guns, police say

Marion County Forensic Services vehicles are parked at the site of a mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Friday. Photo: Jeff Dean/AFP via Getty Images

The suspected gunman in this week's mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis legally purchased two assault rifles believed to have been used in the attack, police said late Saturday.

Of note: The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's statement that Brandon Scott Hole, 19, bought the rifles last July and September comes a day after the FBI said in a statement to news outlets that a "shotgun was seized" from the suspect in March 2020 after his mother raised concerns about his mental health.

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