U.S. Agencies Stonewalling to Avoid Trump's Ire, Democrat Says

  • In World
  • 2020-01-19 15:26:55Z
  • By Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- Congress is being stonewalled by intelligence agency officials who refuse to testify in public for fear of drawing President Donald Trump's ire, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said.

"Part of their job is to speak truth to power," Representative Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, said Sunday on "This Week" on ABC. "The intelligence community is reluctant to have an open hearing," Schiff said, "because they're worried about angering the president."

Schiff's committee has in the past held annual public hearings to discuss global security threats, with leaders at the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency among those testifying. A hearing hasn't been set for this year.

Document disclosure is another problem area, he said.

"The intelligence community is beginning to withhold documents from Congress on the issue of Ukraine. They appear to be succumbing to pressure from the administration," he said.

The Senate Intelligence Committee a year ago heard from the heads of key agencies, including the CIA and NSA, who said North Korea and Islamic State remained critical security threats. In response, Trump called the agency heads "extremely passive and naive" in a tweet to his millions of followers.

Schiff said the NSA is refusing to provide "potentially relevant documents" on Ukraine, and also withholding documents that may be relevant for senators in Trump's upcoming impeachment trial. "That is deeply concerning," he said.

The lawmaker said the CIA may be on the same course, but didn't elaborate.

"We are counting on the intelligence community not only to speak truth to power, but to resist pressure from the administration to withhold information from Congress because the administration fears that they incriminate them," he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Steve Geimann in Washington at sgeimann@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Matthew G. Miller at mmiller144@bloomberg.net, Ros Krasny

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