DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf Subpoenaed by House Democrats

Mimi Nguyen Ly
By Mimi Nguyen Ly
September 12, 2020Politics
DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf Subpoenaed by House Democrats
Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf speaks during a press conference on the actions taken by Border Patrol and Homeland Security agents in Portland during continued protests from the US Customs and Border Patrol headquarters in Washington, on July 21, 2020. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

The Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) on Sept. 11 subpoenaed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Chad Wolf to testify at a public hearing on Sept. 17 titled “Worldwide Threats to the Homeland.”

It comes after the DHS said on the same day that Wolf will not be available to testify on Sept. 17, and offered to find a later date for his testimony.

In a press release, the House Committee on Homeland Security said that the DHS had “committed to Mr. Wolf testifying” on Sept. 17 but Wolf “reneged on the commitment” on Sept. 8 which prompted the subpoena. Thompson in the release accused Wolf of “evading congressional oversight.”

In a Sept. 10 letter (pdf) to Wolf, Thompson accused him of “reneging” on his commitment to appear at the hearing. Thompson also wrote that “there is no legal prohibition” that would bar Wolf from testifying on Sept. 17. Thompson noted that the DHS informed the committee on July 23 that Wolf would be available to testify on Sept. 17, with formal invitations sent out on Aug. 25 once other federal agencies had agreed on the mutual date.

Beth Spivey, the assistant secretary of the DHS Office of Legislative Affairs, in a letter on Sept. 11, responded to Thompson’s Sept. 10 letter saying it would be inappropriate for Wolf to testify on Sept. 17 due to his pending nomination to be the permanent secretary of Homeland Security. Wolf was formally nominated to the post by President Donald Trump on Sept. 10.

She told Thompson that his arguments are “without merit.” She wrote that from the time of the formal nomination, Wolf “became unavailable to testify before Congress on matters unrelated to his nomination and will regain the ability to do so when the Senate completes the confirmation process.”

“The right of a president’s nominee to abstain from testifying on matters unrelated to his or her nomination while such a nomination is pending is an unwritten rule honored by chairmen from both sides of the aisle for many decades,” she noted, adding that it is “standard practice” and has been the “prevailing practice” of past administrations.

“This presidential nomination obviates any concern that the acting secretary’s declining to testify at the [hearing on Sept. 17] was premature, conjectural, or speculative,” she added.

The DHS had on Sept. 8 offered that the Senior Official Performing the Duties of Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli could testify instead, because he is “from the DHS’s point of view” well positioned to discuss matters related to the topics of the hearing, Spivey noted. If that did not suffice, the DHS had also committed to help find a later date for Wolf to testify once the Senate completes the confirmation process, Spivey told Thompson.

NTD Photo
Ken Cuccinelli, the Acting Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, in Washington on Aug. 18, 2020. (Brendon Fallon/The Epoch Times)

In the Sept. 8 letter to Thompson (pdf), the DHS said that it had also informed the Senate of Wolf’s unavailability. In that letter, Spivey wrote: “It is important to note that, Acting Secretary Wolf offered to testify before the committee in July on Worldwide Threats to the Homeland and in August on Civil Unrest. Unfortunately, the committee was unable to schedule those hearings.”

In a Twitter post on Sept. 11, a DHS spokesperson alleged: “If this hearing was legitimately about threats to the homeland, @HomelandDems would immediately accept our offer to have [Kenneth Cuccinelli] testify. Instead, this is just another example of D.C. swampland putting politics above public safety.”

The House Homeland Security Committee on Twitter responded hours later: “This is yet another example of the Trump administration trying to evade congressional oversight of its failed policies. What is Chad hiding?”

The Epoch Times has reached out to the DHS for comment.

From The Epoch Times

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