Home News Schiff subpoenas DHS for documents and testimony related to whistleblower allegations

Schiff subpoenas DHS for documents and testimony related to whistleblower allegations

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The subpoenas are connected to the committee’s probe into actions taken by the department’s intelligence arm during recent protests around the country and a whistleblower complaint filed earlier this month that alleges top political appointees in the department repeatedly instructed career officials to modify intelligence assessments to suit President Donald Trump’s agenda by downplaying Russia’s efforts to interfere in the US and the threat posed by White supremacists.

Earlier this month, CNN first reported details from a whistleblower complaint filed by Brian Murphy to the DHS inspector general. Murphy previously oversaw the intelligence division at the department but was reassigned this summer after it was revealed his office had gathered intelligence reports on two US journalists.

On Tuesday, Schiff said his panel had issued a subpoena to compel DHS to turn over “outstanding documents, communications, and other records pertaining to the Committee’s ongoing investigation” by October 6, according to a letter from the California Democrat to Joseph Maher, the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis (I&A).

Separately, Maher was also subpoenaed to testify before the committee in an open hearing later this week and tell lawmakers, under oath, why DHS is “preventing a lawful Intelligence Community whistleblower—the former head of an Intelligence Community element—from providing classified testimony to the Committee by delaying security clearances for his attorneys,” the letter says.

Schiff also called on Maher to explain why the department’s intelligence office “failed to produce requested documents to the Committee, and to answer questions about Mr. Maher’s own knowledge of and involvement the matters under investigation.”

“The Committee has an obligation to independently investigate and substantiate serious allegations against senior Department of Homeland Security and White House officials. These allegations include the suppression of intelligence reports about Russia’s election interference and efforts to modify intelligence assessments to match Trump’s rhetoric on white supremacy, Antifa, and terrorism threats at the border,” Schiff said in a statement Tuesday after issuing the subpoenas.

“Unfortunately, the Department has unlawfully obstructed the Committee’s investigation by refusing to produce numerous documents related to the allegations in the whistleblower complaint and related to its activities in Portland. It has even taken the unprecedented step of slow walking security clearances for counsel to the whistleblower—the former acting head of an IC element,” he said.

“After weeks, and in some cases months, of attempted accommodation with the Department, we were left with no choice but to issue two subpoenas today … Simply put, the Committee will no longer tolerate the obstruction and attempts to run out the clock by the Department,” Schiff added.

Tuesday’s subpoenas come as Schiff and Murphy’s attorneys have accused DHS of slow-walking the panel’s investigation into the department’s intelligence division and the allegations raised in the recently filed whistleblower complaint.

In that complaint, Murphy claims that acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf instructed DHS officials earlier this year to “cease providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference” and, instead, focus their efforts on gathering information related to activities being carried out by China and Iran.

He also alleges that Wolf and Cuccinelli, both Trump appointees, directed officials to change intelligence assessments to ensure they matched up with misleading public comments from Trump about Antifa and “anarchist” groups, according to a complaint filed with the DHS inspector general.

Separately, both Wolf and Cuccinelli also tried to alter a report to downplay the threat posed by White supremacists and instead emphasize the role of leftist groups due to concerns about how the initial language would reflect on the President, according to documents filed to the inspector general’s office.

DHS spokesman Alexei Woltornist said in a statement to CNN earlier this month that “the Department generally does not comment on the specifics of OIG referrals, but we flatly deny that there is any truth to the merits of Mr. Murphy’s claim.”

“DHS looks forward to the results of any resulting investigation and we expect it will conclude that no retaliatory action was taken against Mr. Murphy,” he added.

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