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.

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“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 Foreign Affairs chairman subpoenas U.S. global media chief

Sept. 19 (UPI) — House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel has subpoenaed U.S. global media chief Michael Pack amid fears of bias.

Democrats fear Pack, the CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media since June, an appointee of President Donald Trump, and close ally of former Trump aide Steve Bannon, will move to reshape the leadership and independence of news organizations, such as Voice of America, to be biased in favor of Trump.

The House Affairs panel called Pack to testify after a series of firings in June, Pack’s first month on the job, including the heads of three international broadcast networks for Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Critics fear Pack will jeopardize the independence of broadcast networks, charged with objectively reporting about the United States and its foreign policy to an international audience of 350 million people.

Engel, D-N.Y., said Friday Pack planned to back out on his commitment to appear at a Sept. 24 hearing.

“His office failed to provide any reasonable alternative dates and his excuse for breaking his commitment is not acceptable,” Engle said in a statement.

Pack has insisted the firings were a routine part of new leadership at the organization and a U.S. Agency for Global Media spokesperson said Friday that Pack couldn’t attend due to a scheduling conflict.

“Michael Pack is disappointed that the Committee has decided to escalate the situation,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Pack is eager to testify before the Committee to talk about the critical work of USAGM and to answer members’ questions.”

Senate Republicans pushed through the conservative filmmaker’s confirmation to the U.S. Agency for Global Media back in June despite objections from Democrats, who said that the process should be stalled pending the District of Columbia attorney general’s investigation into whether he illegally funneled money from his nonprofit group to his for-profit film company.

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House labor committee subpoenas NLRB over conflict of interest questions on joint-employer issues

Committee chairman Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.) said that the board’s ongoing refusal to provide the documents suggests that the board is covering up malfeasance, according to a letter from Scott to the panel to NLRB Chairman John Ring.

“[T]he continued refusal to give the Committee certain documents indicate that the NLRB has something to hide regarding decisions that are likely tainted by a defective process, such as the McDonald’s case and the joint employer rulemaking,” Scott wrote in the letter, sent earlier this month. “The Committee is left to conclude that the NLRB’s sole motivation for refusing to produce requested documents is to cover up misconduct.”

The NLRB says that though it has not given the documentation over, it has offered the committee the ability to review some of the documents in private.

“The Committee knows it is not entitled to the documents it is demanding,” Ring said in a statement. “This is a made-up controversy solely for political theater.”

A spokesman for the NLRB called the subpoena “unprecedented,” in a statement, adding the “disclosure of these pre-decisional documents would discourage agency employees from providing candid advice and undermine the internal deliberations of the Board.”

The Committee disagrees, saying that it is entitled to the information that is being shielded from it.

The documentation requested involves the issue of joint employer classification, which is an issue when there is more than one employer involved, such as when one of the employers is a franchise. Joint employer labor issues could have implications for millions of workers at large corporations like McDonald’s.

The NLRB, under President Barack Obama, focused on making it easier for workers to hold joint-employers accountable for their working conditions — such as workers who work for McDonald’s franchisees seeking redress from the McDonald’s Corp. But the Trump administration has worked to narrow these protections.

The first case the committee has sought more information on was a decision made by the NLRB in December to approve a settlement between McDonald’s franchisees and workers that absolved McDonald’s from direct responsibility over workers, as a joint employer — a legal win for the company.

William Emanuel, an appointee to the board by President Trump, was asked to recuse himself by the workers’ lawyers, because he worked for a law firm that had helped set up a hotline for McDonald’s franchise owners to call for legal advice about how to respond to some of the protests by workers, according to the committee and Bloomberg Law.

Emanuel participated in the McDonald’s decision — a violation of an executive order that prohibits appointees from participating in any matter that is “directly and substantially related” to former employers or former clients, said Josh Weisz, a spokesman for the House Education Committee.

The committee also wants more information on the NLRB’s decision to hire a contractor to sort and categorize public comments on the joint-employer rulemaking process.

The NLRB board disagrees that its members have been involved in any conflict of interests.

“There is

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Bennie Thompson subpoenas Chad Wolf

House Homeland Security Committee Chair Bennie G. Thompson issued a subpoena Friday to try to compel acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to testify at a hearing next week, setting up a major clash of two branches of government.

Mr. Thompson has called a hearing on terrorist threats and has the FBI chief and the leader of the National Counterterrorism Center slated to testify. He has also demanded Mr. Wolf appear, but the acting secretary said he wouldn’t, citing his recent nomination to the secretary’s post.

Homeland Security says it’s tradition for someone who’s facing Senate confirmation not to testify.

Mr. Thompson said the times are so uncertain that the acting secretary must appear, and he accused Mr. Wolf of “evading” the hearing.

“From the coronavirus pandemic to the rise of right-wing extremism to ongoing election interference, there are urgent threats requiring our attention,” the Mississippi Democrat said.

The subpoena, issued 19 years to the day after the terrorist attacks that spurred creation of the department, pits tradition and courtesy against Democrats’ demands for answers.

They are eager to try to pin Mr. Wolf down on a series of matters, including ongoing immigration matters, a new whistleblower complaint that accuses him and other top department officials of shaping intelligence reports to benefit President Trump, and Homeland Security’s response to riots in Portland, Oregon.

Republicans complained that Mr. Thompson had previously promised not to issue unilateral subpoenas.

Rep. Mike Rogers, the ranking Republican, said the committee could have heard from Ken Cuccinelli, the No. 2 man at the department.

Instead, he said, Mr. Thompson is picking a procedural fight.

“We need to get our priorities straight,” Mr. Rogers said. “It’s of the utmost importance to hear from the Department on the threats facing our nation.”

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House chairman subpoenas DHS acting secretary Wolf for Sept. 17 hearing

Spivey emphasized that DHS had been willing to make Wolf’s deputy Ken Cuccinelli available to testify, which she said should have been sufficient since he’s fully versed in the same subjects as Wolf.

Thompson said in a statement that Wolf’s refusal to testify at the panel’s annual “worldwide threats” hearing was an abdication at a critical time.

“The Committee has not only the authority, but also an obligation to execute its Constitutional oversight responsibilities regarding Mr. Wolf’s decisions and the Department’s actions in securing the homeland,” Thompson said.

The subpoena is the culmination of a series of exchanges between Thompson and DHS that began in June. He said earlier efforts to schedule the hearing in June and July were unworkable for other agencies intending to participate in the hearing, including the FBI and National Counterterrorism Center. Thompson said that DHS indicated Wolf would be available on Sept. 17. Other agencies confirmed their availability for that date as well, Thompson said.

Thompson acknowledged Wolf’s expected nomination as permanent secretary but emphasized that “[s]hould you be nominated, there is no legal prohibition barring you from testifying before the Committee.”

“Moreover, while the relied upon practice may be reasonable in circumstances where the nominee has only served in an ‘acting’ capacity for a short period of time, that is not your situation. The Department has been without a Senate-confirmed Secretary for 17 months,” Thompson added.

In her reply to Thompson, Spivey said Cuccinelli is still willing to appear on Sept. 17 if the committee requests it. In her letter to the panel earlier in the week, Spivey said DHS had informed the Senate of Wolf’s unavailability for a worldwide threats hearing as well, given his pending nomination.

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House readies contempt resolution as Pompeo defies subpoenas

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Foreign Affairs Committee is moving to hold Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in contempt after he has repeatedly rejected the committee’s subpoenas for records related to Ukraine that the department has turned over to the Republican-led Senate.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., said Friday that the panel will prepare a contempt resolution because of what he called Pompeo’s “unprecedented record of obstruction and defiance of the House’s constitutional oversight authority.” The House has asked for the same documents that the State Department has turned over for a Senate investigation into Democrat Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and his activities in Ukraine, but Pompeo has refused to provide them.

In a letter to Engel this week, the department said Pompeo would turn over the documents if the House panel was investigating, like the Senate, “identical or very similar corruption issues involving Ukraine and corrupt influence related to U.S. foreign policy.” Democrats have said they believe that investigation by the Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committee is a politically motivated, election-year probe that is aiding Russia’s attempts to sow chaos in American democracy and spreading Russian disinformation.

The department reiterated that position Friday after Engel said he would pursue contempt, saying in a statement that they would provide the materials “with the only condition being that he send a letter explaining what foreign policy issue he is investigating that requires these documents.”

The committee’s contempt resolution will also cite Pompeo’s refusal to comply with a subpoena issued during the House impeachment inquiry last year. The House impeached President Donald Trump in December — and the Senate acquitted him in February — for his pressure on Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden as Joe Biden was running for the Democratic nomination to challenge Trump. The president and his associates asked Ukraine for the probes as he was withholding military aid to the country.

“Mr. Pompeo is demanding that the committee do essentially the same thing Russia is doing, according the Office of the Director of National Intelligence: ‘spreading claims about corruption’ in order to ‘interfere in the American presidential election,’” Engel said. “In other words, Pompeo will give the committee what we were seeking if we join in a smear of the president’s political rival. Sound familiar?”

The contempt resolution is the latest — and likely futile — attempt by the Democrat-led House to pressure Trump’s administration into complying with requests for testimony and information on a wide range of issues. While congressional subpoenas are legally binding, officials who have rebuffed Congress have faced little consequence for defying them, while Trump has fired or demoted federal employees who have complied with requests individually.

Contempt itself is largely a symbolic gesture that has generally been used to embarrass officials who refuse congressional requests, and Democratic attempts to legally fight the administration’s refusals have been drawn out in lengthy court battles.

The State Department has also defied subpoenas in the committee’s investigation of Trump’s firing of

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