I request that you immediately commit to sending representatives to brief the committee on worldwide threats in a classified setting next week, Thompson wrote.
The friction with the House panel comes as top lawmakers on the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee have separately pushed for President Donald Trump’s intelligence officials to testify publicly about worldwide threats before Congress’ August recess. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has sought to move the Senate briefing entirely behind closed doors after last year’s session prompted Trump to spend days attacking his agency chiefs for contradicting him on issues like Iran and North Korea.
The House Homeland Security panel has traditionally held a public hearing on worldwide threats around the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. However, the session didnt occur in 2018, due to pushback from the Trump administration. It took place last year, but only after Thompson subpoenaed the then-acting DHS and NCTC chiefs.
A Democratic committee staff member told POLITICO that the panel first engaged DHS, FBI and ODNI of which NCTC is a part in mid-June about the annual hearing.
Negotiations between the two sides eventually converted the format into a classified briefing. ODNI then proposed the briefing take place virtually, but that idea was scrapped due to security concerns, the staff member said. The format was altered again to an in-person briefing before all three agencies pulled the plug over the last week, suggesting the briefing occur in September instead.
In his letter, Thompson reiterated a request for the officials to appear before the panel for the annual hearing on Sept. 10, noting that last year the committee was forced to issue subpoenas in order to obtain testimony as a last resort.
I certainly hope your refusal to brief next week and reluctance to commit to testifying do not indicate that compulsory process will be necessary again, the Mississippi Democrat warned, adding hes prepared to use all tools at the committees disposal to ensure lawmakers understand the current threat landscape.
ODNI, FBI and DHS did not immediately respond to requests for comment.