McAleenan resolves standoff, will testify at threats hearing
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan will now testify Wednesday at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on global terrorism, the committee and the Department of Homeland Security confirmed on Tuesday.
McAleenan had said last week that he would not appear for the hearing, despite being issued a subpoena by the committee. The subpoena has been withdrawn since McAleenan has agreed to voluntarily appear at the hearing, according to a letter from House Homeland Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson.
CNN reported last week that the hearing fell the day before McAleenan was scheduled to leave his job atop DHS and, in a letter to the committee sent at the time, McAleenan said he could not testify because he was focused on “winding down” his tenure. President Donald Trump announced McAleenan’s resignation earlier this month.
Asked on Tuesday if McAleenan was still planning to leave office on Thursday, a DHS official could not confirm the date but said “the Secretary has always said he will work with the White House on his departure date to ensure a smooth transition.”
Thompson had issued subpoenas last week to McAleenan and acting National Counterterrorism Center Director Russell Travers to appear at the hearing Wednesday on terrorist threats facing the country.
Anything McAleenan says at the hearing has a “shelf life of 24 hours,” a senior Homeland Security Department official told CNN last week, noting that the acting secretary is expected to depart the following day.
“There was no indication that they were going to move to a compulsory process,” said the official. “It’s not an appropriate approach.”
While Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, and the acting secretary have previously worked together cooperatively, their correspondence regarding the subpoena had appeared tense.
In a testy letter to Thompson on Friday, McAleenan said he was “disappointed, and extremely surprised” to receive the subpoena, writing that Thompson refused to limit questioning to the topic of the hearing. McAleenan also noted that the subpoena appears to have violated committee rules, as it was issued by the chairman alone and apparently without notifying his Republican committee counterpart.
Thompson responded in a statement at the time that “the Acting Secretary’s letter gets the facts wrong. To be clear, no rules were broken by the Committee and his appearance remains legally required. It seems he just doesn’t want to testify. But it should be no surprise that a Trump Administration official would deliberately mislead the American public.”
CNN’s Caroline Kelly contributed to this report.