House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonJan. 6 panel plans to subpoena Trump lawyer who advised on how to overturn election At least five Trump administration staffers have spoken with Jan 6 committee: CNN Sunday shows - Democrats' spending plan in the spotlight MORE (D-Miss.) on Thursday issued subpoenas for the public testimony of two senior Trump administration officials on terror threats facing the country.
Thompson on Wednesday subpoenaed acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and acting National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) Director Russell Travers, demanding that they testify in a public Oct. 30 hearing.
A statement from the committee on the subpoenas said that it has been attempting to get McAleenan and Travers to testify since July and that both agencies previously pulled out of a hearing.
“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.
"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. It is unfortunate but not surprising the Administration would not keep its word and that subpoenas have become necessary, but the Committee will carry out its oversight responsibilities entrusted to Congress by the Constitution,” he added.
McAleenan responded in a letter to Thomson on Friday, saying he would not testify despite the subpoena. He said that it would fall during his last week as Homeland Security Secretary and that he needed to devote that time "to ensuring an effective transition in the leadership of the Department."
As an alternative, he offered the testimony of Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis David Glawe or for the department to find "an appropriate time for my successor to testify in the near future."
McAleenan has led Homeland Security on an acting basis since April after then-Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenFar-left bullies resort to harassing, shaming Kyrsten Sinema — it won't work Ex-Trump official: 'No. 1 national security threat I've ever seen' is GOP Left-leaning group to track which companies hire former top Trump aides MORE's resignation. President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel plans to subpoena Trump lawyer who advised on how to overturn election Texans chairman apologizes for 'China virus' remark Biden invokes Trump in bid to boost McAuliffe ahead of Election Day MORE recently announced that McAleenan will also be stepping down.
Trump's recent decision to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria and a subsequent Turkish incursion has sparked concern about a possible ISIS resurgence.
Recent hate-motivated attacks have also brought attention to the threat of white supremacy. McAleenan said last month that his department's counterterrorism strategy would include combatting such domestic threats.
—Updated at 6:12 p.m.