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Engel subpoenas US global media chief Michael Pack

Engel subpoenas US global media chief Michael Pack
© YouTube/USAGM

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelState Department sets up new bureau for cybersecurity and emerging technologies How Congress dismissed women's empowerment 2020: A year in photos MORE (D-N.Y.) has issued a subpoena for Michael Pack, the CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), after the federal media agency head told the panel he was backing out on his agreement to appear at an upcoming hearing.

“Mr. Pack’s office informed the Committee last night that he intended to back out on his commitment to appear at a hearing on September 24,” Engel said in a statement Friday. “His office failed to provide any reasonable alternative dates and his excuse for breaking his commitment is not acceptable.

“Today the Committee has issued a subpoena to compel Mr. Pack’s testimony on the originally agreed-upon date."

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Pack, a conservative filmmaker and Trump appointee who took over as head of the USAGM in June, oversees state-run media around the world, including Voice of America and Radio Free Europe.

The USAGM was run by an Obama appointee during the first two years of President TrumpDonald TrumpFacebook temporarily bans ads for weapons accessories following Capitol riots Sasse, in fiery op-ed, says QAnon is destroying GOP Section 230 worked after the insurrection, but not before: How to regulate social media MORE’s presidency while Pack was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee along a party-line vote of 12-10.

Pack was called to testify before the House Foreign Affairs panel in June after he dismissed the heads of three international broadcast networks for Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the head of an internet freedom grantee organization.

The series of firings during his first month on the job drew bipartisan criticism from Democratic lawmakers and conservative commentators.

The committee’s ranking Republican, Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulImpeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP Lawmakers push back on late Trump terror designation for Yemen's Houthis Foreign adversaries skewer US after Capitol riots MORE (Texas), said, “It’s unfortunate we have arrived here today, but CEO Pack has left this committee few options.”

“USAGM should be doing all they can to carry out their mission to support democracy efforts around the world. Instead, since assuming his position as CEO, Mr. Pack has made decisions that place critical national security programs, including the Open Technology Fund, in jeopardy — and he needs to come before this committee and explain those actions,” McCaul said in a statement. 

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“I strongly urge CEO Pack to abide by his longstanding commitment to testify before our committee next week.”

A USAGM spokesperson told The Hill Pack is “disappointed that the Committee has decided to escalate the situation,” which they described as based on a scheduling conflict. 

The agency says Pack is unable to attend the hearing due to “the evolution of pressing and unprecedented matters at USAGM requiring the CEO’s attention,” adding that they will work with lawmakers to find a “mutually agreeable data” for his testimony.

—Updated at 6:05 p.m.