House Intel Committee Chairman Schiff announces subpoenas in Homeland Security whistleblower probe

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff announced subpoenas Tuesday for documents and testimony from the Department of Homeland Security as part of the committee’s whistleblower investigation.

Brian Murphy alleged that officials pressured him to downplay information on Russian influence and the threat represented by White supremacists. The complaint also alleges that Murphy was retaliated against and demoted.

Schiff accused the DHS and Joseph B. Maher, the head of its Office of Intelligence and Analysis, of “effectively blocking the whistleblower from testifying” and failing to provide documents.

DHS has denied the allegations in both the complaint and from Schiff.

WOLF TAKES AIM AT ‘FABRICATED’ COMPLAINTS, REPORTS AT CONFIRMATION HEARING

“The whistleblower complaint from Mr. Murphy is patently false, it’s a fabrication, completely,” acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf said at a Senate confirmation hearing last week.

He said Murphy was reassigned because of allegations he abused his authority by personally directing the collection of information on U.S. journalists.

In this March 3, photo House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Schiff said Tuesday, Sept. 29, that he will subpoena the Department of Homeland Security after a department whistleblower wasn’t allowed access to documents and clearance he needs to testify. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

In this March 3, photo House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Schiff said Tuesday, Sept. 29, that he will subpoena the Department of Homeland Security after a department whistleblower wasn’t allowed access to documents and clearance he needs to testify. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

In a letter to Maher, Schiff wrote that Murphy’s lawyers had not been granted temporary security clearances by the DHS that would allow them to work on his deposition in the case, which the committee said it has repeatedly been forced to delay.

“The Committee will no longer tolerate the obstruction and attempts to run out the clock by the Department,” Schiff said in a statement.

The subpoenas aim to force the DHS to hand over records related to an ongoing whistleblower probe and to compel Maher to testify under oath.

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The DHS denied that it was “stonewalling” the committee and said in a statement that the subpoenas amounted to “obvious political theater.”

DHS said it produced “nearly 3,000 pages of documents” in addition to other materials for the House committee.

The subpoenas are seeking an Oct. 6 deadline for DHS to hand over the documents and testimony from Maher on Oct. 2.

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“The Committee has a responsibility to independently investigate and substantiate Mr. Murphy’s serious allegations, and you and your office have a legal obligation to comply,” Schiff wrote to Maher. “The allegations, as the Committee has underscored repeatedly, fall squarely within the Committee’s legislative jurisdiction and strike at the heart of the Committee’s constitutional oversight responsibility.”

Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.

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House Homeland Security Hearing Examines Worldwide Threats

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (announces that he will issue a subpoena to compel acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to testify before beginning a hearing about ‘worldwide threats to the homeland’ in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill September 17, 2020 in Washington, DC. An August Government Accountability Office report found that Wolf’s appointment by the Trump Administration, which has regularly skirted the Senate confirmation process, was invalid and a violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act. Pool Photo by Chip Somodevilla/UPI

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House Hearing On Homeland Threats : NPR

FBI Director Christopher Wray, pictured on Capitol Hill on Feb. 5, is briefing House members on security threats on Thursday.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images


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Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

FBI Director Christopher Wray, pictured on Capitol Hill on Feb. 5, is briefing House members on security threats on Thursday.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

A House committee has convened a hearing on threats to the homeland with top intelligence and security officials — albeit with some notable absences.

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe is not appearing after recently announcing changes to how members of Congress would be briefed on election threats. In a statement on Wednesday, he reiterated that he does not intend to give broad briefings “in order to protect sources and methods,” although he said he still will talk with small groups of select lawmakers.

In August, Ratcliffe said he would not give any in-person briefings, but recently agreed to hold more limited face-to-face meetings.

The House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday is expected to hear from FBI Director Christopher Wray and the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Christopher Miller. (Follow updates on the hearing here.)

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was subpoenaed to appear, too. The department sought to send acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli instead, but the committee rejected the request.

The status and duties of Wolf and Cuccinelli have been questioned by the watchdog agency Government Accountability Office, which opined last month that neither man is serving appropriately in his ostensible role with the agency because of irregularities involved with how they were named.

Cuccinelli said on Wednesday evening that the department’s position now is that Wolf, who has been performing the duties of DHS’s secretary for months and been an important deputy to President Trump, is a “pending nominee” for his job awaiting Senate confirmation. Accordingly, it would be inappropriate for him to appear before the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday, Cuccinelli said.

“In light of that precedent, DHS offered to accommodate [the panel’s] request to hear about threats. I had testimony prepared and had my schedule clear to show up at this morning’s hearing,” Cuccinelli said. “Instead, the committee majority decided that they would rather put on a show for the media. Instead of serving the American people and working to keep them safe, they would rather use the American people’s time and money to stage a political spectacle.”

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Live Updates: House Hearing On Homeland Threats : NPR

FBI Director Christopher Wray, pictured on Capitol Hill on Feb. 5, is briefing House members on security threats on Thursday.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

FBI Director Christopher Wray, pictured on Capitol Hill on Feb. 5, is briefing House members on security threats on Thursday.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

A House committee has convened a hearing on threats to the homeland with top intelligence and security officials — albeit with some notable absences.

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe is not appearing after recently announcing changes to how members of Congress would be briefed on election threats. In a statement on Wednesday, he reiterated that he does not intend to give broad briefings “in order to protect sources and methods,” although he said he still will talk with small groups of select lawmakers.

In August, Ratcliffe said he would not give any in-person briefings, but recently agreed to hold more limited face-to-face meetings.

The House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday is expected to hear from FBI Director Christopher Wray and the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Christopher Miller. (Follow updates on the hearing here.)

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was subpoenaed to appear, too. The department sought to send acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli instead, but the committee rejected the request.

The status and duties of Wolf and Cuccinelli have been questioned by the watchdog agency Government Accountability Office, which opined last month that neither man is serving appropriately in his ostensible role with the agency because of irregularities involved with how they were named.

Cuccinelli said on Wednesday evening that the department’s position now is that Wolf, who has been performing the duties of DHS’s secretary for months and been an important deputy to President Trump, is a “pending nominee” for his job awaiting Senate confirmation. Accordingly, it would be inappropriate for him to appear before the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday, Cuccinelli said.

“In light of that precedent, DHS offered to accommodate [the panel’s] request to hear about threats. I had testimony prepared and had my schedule clear to show up at this morning’s hearing,” Cuccinelli said. “Instead, the committee majority decided that they would rather put on a show for the media. Instead of serving the American people and working to keep them safe, they would rather use the American people’s time and money to stage a political spectacle.”

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BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Sandeep Prasanna, subcommittee director for intelligence and counterterrorism on the House Homeland Security Committee

How/where are you celebrating your birthday and with whom? “I had a fun, low-key weekend — Saturday was spent jumping around outdoor distilleries and breweries in Northeast D.C., and ended with takeout from one of our favorite spots, Maketto. Today is the first day of session after August recess, so I’ll be teleworking at home with my partner, Ryan, and our cats, Idli and Chutney, squeezing in a few video calls with family and friends throughout the day. Tonight, I’m actually teaching my first evening class of the semester at Georgetown Law, so it’ll be a late night in the office, aka our dining table.”

How did you get your start in politics? “Like many fledgling lawyers looking for work on Capitol Hill, I was stuck in job hunt purgatory for a long time — graduate degree but no Hill experience, underqualified for counsel positions but passed over for entry-level positions. I got my start in the Senate when Sen. [Richard] Blumenthal and his staff took a chance on me, offering me a spot on his Judiciary team as a legislative correspondent. It wasn’t easy balancing law school debt on a junior staffer salary, but I took the opportunity and ran with it. It felt fulfilling to work on a portfolio I cared deeply about, learning from some of the best in the business.”

What’s an interesting book/article you’re reading during coronavirus social distancing? And why? “I recently finished ‘Survival of the Friendliest: Understanding Our Origins and Rediscovering Our Common Humanity,’ written by Duke scientists Brian Hare (my thesis adviser!) and Vanessa Woods. They walk us through the research that shows that humans may often be cruel to one another, but we’re also uniquely cooperative — and that’s what has made us successful as a species. Survival of the friendliest. It’s a science-based call to action for us to reimagine and expand who ‘belongs’ in our communities in order to harness the better angels that are built into our very DNA. I’m a little biased, but we need this book now more than ever.”

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U.S. Senate committee joins House panel in probing Homeland whistleblower complaint

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate intelligence committee is investigating a whistleblower complaint filed by a former top U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official alleging he was pressed to skew official intelligence reports for political purposes, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf arrives with U.S. President Donald Trump to participate in an Iowa disaster recovery briefing, at the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, U.S., August 18, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

Senators Marco Rubio and Mark Warner, the committee’s Republican acting chair and Democrat vice chair, wrote to DHS deputy general counsel Joseph Maher on Thursday, saying they had received the complaint and asking for related documents.

Brian Murphy, who until recently was acting chief of DHS’ intelligence and analysis (I&A) office, alleged in the complaint that acting DHS chief Chad Wolf asked him to stop providing assessments on Russian election interference and to play down U.S. white supremacist activity.

“As the Committee investigates this matter, we respectfully request that you provide the Committee with all intelligence assessments produced by I&A related to Mr. Murphy’s complaint including but not limited to products related to migration and asylum, foreign interference in U.S. elections, and domestic threats related to white supremacism, antifa and ‘anarchist groups’”, the senators’ letter says.

A spokesman for Rubio said Murphy’s complaint “will be treated as seriously as any other complaint.”

DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment but said on Wednesday, “We flatly deny that there is any truth to the merits of Mr. Murphy’s claim.”.

The Rubio-Warner letter, first reported by Reuters, indicates the Republican-led Senate committee is joining the Democrat-led House Intelligence Committee in digging into allegations in the complaint that Murphy, who served as acting DHS intelligence for several months this year, filed earlier this week with the DHS Inspector General.

Mark Zaid, a lawyer for Murphy, said “We have specifically requested DHS’s position on whether it will block Mr. Murphy’s classified testimony before relevant congressional committees, including when faced with a subpoena.”

Murphy’s complaint alleges that Wolf told him to stop providing assessments of the threat of Russian interference in the Nov. 3 election and to play down U.S. white supremacist activity. Murphy says Wolf told him in mid-May to report instead on political interference threats posed by China and Iran, and to highlight the involvement of left-wing groups in domestic disorder.

The House Intelligence Committee requested that Murphy appear for a deposition on Sept. 21. House committee chairman Adam Schiff said on Friday he met with the DHS’ Maher earlier this week to discuss Murphy’s complaint.

The White House has denied suggestions by Murphy that Robert O’Brien, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, instructed Wolf to play up intelligence supporting Trump’s political themes.

Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Editing by Tom Brown

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