McAleenan says he won't testify before House panel despite subpoena

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan says he will not testify in front of Congress next week even after the House Homeland Security Committee issued a subpoena for his appearance.

The outgoing Trump administration official wrote in a letter to Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonTop House Democrats ask for review of DHS appointments Bipartisan bill to secure election tech advances to House floor Chad Wolf becomes acting DHS secretary MORE (D-Miss.), the chairman of the panel, saying he was “disappointed” and “extremely surprised” to receive his subpoena for the Oct. 30 hearing, which is scheduled one day before he is set to leave his post. 

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“We respect your oversight needs regarding worldwide threats, but it is also important that you respect the Department’s need that I devote my final week as Acting Secretary to ensuring an effective transition in the leadership of the Department,” McAleenan said. 

“Given my impending departure, I am unavailable to testify on October 30,” he wrote, adding he is focused on “facilitating an orderly and expeditious transfer of responsibilities to my successor” and that his agency will work with the panel to find a suitable hearing date for his replacement.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has also notified the committee that Undersecretary for Intelligence Analysis David Glawe is available to testify, a DHS spokesperson told The Hill. 

Thompson on Thursday subpoenaed McAleenan and acting National Counterterrorism Center Director Russell Travers to testify before his committee regarding national security threats facing the U.S. and whether vacancies at DHS have hindered the government’s ability to respond. 

“From the release of ISIS prisoners in Syria to the rising number of domestic terrorism incidents here at home to the continuing effort by Russia to meddle in our elections, there are urgent security threats facing the nation. I am concerned that turmoil within the White House and vacancies at the highest levels of the Department of Homeland Security are undermining our ability to respond to terrorist threats,” Thomson said in a statement Thursday.

“It is inexcusable that the people charged with keeping the country safe from terrorism are refusing to show up to testify before Congress and speak to the American people about what they are doing to secure the homeland.”

The subpoena came after President TrumpDonald John TrumpMost Americans break with Trump on Ukraine, but just 45 percent think he should be removed: poll Judge orders Democrats to give notice if they request Trump's NY tax returns Trump's doctor issues letter addressing 'speculation' about visit to Walter Reed MORE’s decision to withdraw troops from northeastern Syria and subsequent reports that ISIS fighters escaped detention amidst the chaos of a Turkish offensive there sparked fears about a possible resurgence of the terrorist group.