The U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee has issued a subpoena to compel a senior Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official to testify about accusations that it had meddled in intelligence reports for political purposes.
The accusation stems from a whistleblower complaint made by former DHS intelligence chief Brian Murphy, who has alleged that top DHS officials and a White House official sought to skew official intelligence reports.
Adam Schiff, the committee’s Democratic chairman, said he had subpoenaed acting DHS intelligence chief Joseph Maher to testify publicly on Friday about what he said were DHS efforts to stall the committee’s investigation into Murphy’s allegations.
Schiff said he also had issued a subpoena to force DHS to turn over “documents, communications, and other records” related to the committee’s probe of Murphy’s allegations.
In his complaint, Murphy said he was pressured to stop providing assessments of the threat of Russian interference in the Nov. 3 U.S. election and to play down white supremacist activity. In addition, he said acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf told him in May to report instead on political interference threats posed by China and Iran and to highlight the involvement of left-wing groups in domestic disorder.
DHS had no immediate comment on Schiff’s latest moves. It has previously flatly denied Murphy’s allegations.
Schiff originally announced that he planned to take a closed-door deposition from Murphy last week so Murphy could talk about classified material he dealt with while at DHS.
But lawyers for Murphy said DHS has moved slowly to grant them security clearances they would need to participate in such proceedings, and have also denied Murphy pre-deposition access to all but unclassified materials he worked on.
Mark Zaid, a lawyer for Murphy, said it was still possible Murphy could be deposed by the committee on Friday if Top Secret security clearances for his lawyers are approved by then.
DHS said last week that the department had been cooperating in good faith and accused the committee of trying to “needlessly rush” its investigation.
(Reporting by Mark Hosenball, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and David Gregorio)