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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.

The Biden protection plan

Joe Biden announces his first run for the presidency in June 1987. Photo: Howard L. Sachs/CNP/Getty Images

The Joe Biden who became the 46th president on Wednesday isn't the same blabbermouth who failed in 1988 and 2008.

Why it matters: Biden now heeds guidance about staying on task with speeches and no longer worries a gaffe or two will cost him an election. His staff also limits the places where he speaks freely and off the cuff. This Biden protective bubble will only tighten in the months ahead, aides tell Axios.

Bush labels Clyburn the “savior” for Democrats

House Majority Whip James Clyburn takes a selfie Wednesday with former President George W. Bush. Photo: Patrick Semansky-Pool/Getty Images

Former President George W. Bush credited Rep. James Clyburn with being the "savior" of the Democratic Party, telling the South Carolinian at Wednesday's inauguration his endorsement allowed Joe Biden to win the party's presidential nomination.

Why it matters: The nation's last two-term Republican president also said Clyburn's nod allowed for the transfer of power, because he felt only Biden had the ability to unseat President Trump.

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