On Wednesday, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) refused DHS’s multiple offers to have a senior department official present at a hearing on worldwide threats.
In response to this transparent and brazen attempt at beltway political theater, Senior Official Performing the Duties of Deputy Secretary (SOPDDS) Ken Cuccinelli issued the following statement:
"Chairman Thompson can complain all he wants, but the facts are clear, and they are not on his side. Longstanding precedent says that pending nominees don’t testify to other committees as their nomination is pending. In light of that precedent, DHS offered to accommodate their request to hear about threats. I had testimony prepared and had my schedule clear to show up at this morning’s hearing. Instead, the committee majority decided that they would rather put on a show for the media. Instead of serving the American people and working to keep them safe, they would rather use the American people’s time and money to stage a political spectacle. Sadly, putting politics ahead of public safety has become far too common for many politicians across the country in recent months, and the swamp is no exception."
In response to the House Homeland Security Committee’s brazenly partisan and unnecessary subpoena of Secretary Chad Wolf issued last week, Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs sent a letter to Chairman Thompson Wednesday once again reiterating the department’s standing offer to accommodate the committee by sending the department’s second in command, Senior Official Performing the Duties of Deputy Secretary (SOPDDS) Ken Cuccinelli.
Furthermore, the majority has demanded that the acting head of the department appear at this hearing; however, have not placed the same requirement on either the Department of Justice or the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which are being represented by the FBI director and the National Counterterrorism Center director, respectively.
SOPDDS Cuccinelli’s availability was just the latest of good-faith efforts to accommodate the committee’s requests:
- In July, DHS Acting Secretary Wolf volunteered to appear at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on worldwide threats. The majority chose to delay this hearing until he was no longer available due to the pending nomination.
- In August, Acting Secretary Wolf volunteered to appear at a July House Homeland Security Committee hearing on Civil unrest. However, the majority instead decided that going on recess was more important.
- On August 25, 2020, President Trump announced his intention to nominate Acting Secretary Wolf to be the Secretary of Homeland Security.
- On September 8, 2020, Assistant Secretary Spivey informed Chairman Thompson that it would be contrary to standard practice for the Acting Secretary on a matter unrelated to his nomination while the nomination was pending and offered SOPDDS Cuccinelli to testify in his stead.
- On September 10, 2020, President Donald Trump formally nominated Acting Secretary Wolf.
- On September 11, 2020, the House Homeland Security majority issued their subpoena. Assistant Secretary Spivey reiterated the offer to have SOPDDS Cuccinelli testify in a letter to Chairman Thompson. Acting Secretary Wolf also made it clear that he would be happy to testify on the matter after his confirmation process was over.
The details of these accommodation efforts are laid out plainly the September 11 letter, which can be read in full here.