The Department of Homeland Security is resisting congressional efforts to look into a top intelligence official’s whistleblower complaint, and House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) isn’t happy.
“This effort to obstruct the Committee’s legitimate oversight will only cause us to press forward with the investigation and consider all options, including compulsory process, to ensure the Department’s full cooperation,” Schiff said in a statement Monday.
Schiff wrote to DHS last week to request more documents and nearly a dozen transcribed interviews with DHS officials, an effort to investigate a whistleblower complaint from Brian Murphy, the former top DHS intelligence official who claims he was demoted for resisting efforts to politicize intelligence. Among other things, Murphy alleges that intelligence assessments on the threats from Russia and white supremacists were delayed and molded to fit President Donald Trump’s rhetoric.
Responding in a letter that a committee spokesperson said had been leaked to CBS News, the DHS Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Beth Spivey wrote Monday that DHS “finds this expansion to be unreasonable under the timeframe and circumstances set forth, and inconsistent with the accommodations process afforded between congressional committees and the Executive Branch.”
Spivey said she took issue with Schiff’s schedule for certain interviews and asserted that Schiff’s investigation was “apparently unfettered in its scope.”
“The Committee’s request for the transcribed interviews of at least eleven (11) DHS officials—it is unclear that the Committee has any jurisdiction over several of them—will not be accommodated at this time,” she added. And planned interviews scheduled this week as part of the committee’s earlier, more narrow investigation into the federal presence in Portland would stick to that topic, she said.
Schiff wasn’t having it.
“The Department of Homeland Security’s refusal to cooperate fully with the Committee’s legitimate investigation—despite repeated pledges of cooperation, including by the new acting head of the Department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis—is unacceptable and only reinforces our concern that the Department and its leadership are trying to conceal additional misconduct, and further politicize the intelligence which protects the American people and our elections,” he said.
“The Department is trying to have it both ways by making only a select few witnesses available to answer a very narrow set of questions and selectively releasing a small amount of documents in an obvious effort to whitewash serious allegations of misconduct by DHS’s leadership, all while refusing to make available other documents and witnesses who can testify to a broader pattern of misconduct and politicization of intelligence.”