National Security

Intel heads to resume worldwide threats hearing scrapped under Trump

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The House and Senate Intelligence committees will question leaders of five major intelligence and security agencies next week, resuming the annual tradition of a worldwide threats hearing that was abandoned under the Trump administration.

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, CIA Director William Burns, FBI Director Christopher Wray, National Security Agency Director Gen. Paul Nakasone and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Gen. Scott Berrier will all appear in the Senate next Wednesday and in the House next Thursday.

Federal law requires the intelligence community to submit an annual worldwide threats assessment, but agencies failed to do so during Trump’s final two years in office. The last worldwide threats hearings were in January 2019.

“Over the last four years, the Trump Administration discarded the tradition of open hearings on World Wide Threats, when it displeased the former president to have his preferred views of rival nations contradicted by agency heads,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said in a statement.

The hearing will be the first congressional appearance for many of the witnesses since they were confirmed earlier this year. 

It comes as the U.S. is facing a diverse set of threats, ranging from geopolitical tensions, a massive cyberattack on the U.S. government, a pandemic and an increase in domestic extremism.

During the last worldwide threats hearings under Trump, Wray and former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats testified on issues including rising threats from Russia and China, noting these nations might attempt to interfere in U.S. elections.

Coats also contradicted Trump on nuclear threats posed by Iran and North Korea, pushing back on Trump’s assessment that North Korea might get rid of its nuclear weapons stockpiles. 

Though not mandated by law, the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing on worldwide threats to the homeland last year, at which Wray and former National Counterterrorism Center Director Christopher Miller testified. 

Former acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was also slated to appear but defied a subpoena to testify, garnering intense criticism from Democratic committee leaders in the process. 

Tags Adam Schiff Avril Haines Chad Wolf christopher wray Dan Coats intelligence community William Burns worldwide threats hearing

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