The House of Representatives intelligence committee has postponed until next week a deposition scheduled for Friday with a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) whistleblower after the department moved slowly to help the official and his lawyers prepare for his testimony.
In a statement released late on Thursday, Democratic intelligence committee chair Adam Schiff said the panel had to reschedule the deposition of former DHS intelligence chief Brian Murphy until next week because DHS has delayed security clearances for his attorneys and barred Murphy from reviewing classified materials to prepare for his deposition.
Schiff said he believed that department political appointees have obstructed and delayed clearances.
He said the committee had informed DHS that it “will have no choice” but to subpoena DHS officials and take “other compulsory steps to secure testimony and documents.”
After DHS removed Murphy as DHS’ acting intelligence chief earlier this summer, he filed a whistleblower complaint alleging that top DHS officials had pressured him to stop providing assessments of the threat of Russian interference in the Nov. 3 election and to play down U.S. white supremacist activity.
“All of our requests to receive one time, limited access to classified information in order for one of us to defend the legal interests of a protected whistleblower as part of a congressional deposition, have been denied,” Mark Zaid, a lawyer for Murphy, told Reuters late on Wednesday.
Zaid said DHS only agreed to give Murphy access to unclassified materials related to his DHS work.
DHS did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In a Sept. 22 letter to Zaid, Chad Mizelle, DHS’ acting general counsel, said that to consider Zaid’s request for Top Secret clearance, the Department would “need to conduct an appropriate investigation…expeditiously.”
Regarding Murphy’s request for classified material access, Mizelle said Murphy “does not have the required ‘need to know’ [for] the classified information he wishes to review.”