The Department of Homeland Security is requesting that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff narrow the scope of his now-expanded probe into the agency’s response to police brutality protests this summer, arguing the investigation had become unreasonably broad.
In a letter dated Monday obtained by The Post, Beth Spivey, assistant secretary for DHS’ legislative affairs office, rejected Schiff’s (D-Calif.) request for 11 new interviews with department officials and slammed the investigation as a whole.
“Your letter, which was transmitted on a Friday afternoon, demands that witnesses who have previously agreed to come before you on a separate narrowly scoped matter this week now be prepared to answer questions — on the record — about events spanning the course of three years unrelated to the Portland Investigation, without communicating the basis for which the Committee believes these witnesses would even have relevant information,” Spivey wrote in her letter to the Democratic House committee chairman.
“More fundamentally, however, the Committee has not provided any explanation for its new sweeping inquiry. The letter lacks context as well as any mention of legislative purpose or authority; and is apparently unfettered in its scope,” she continued.
Spivey went on to decry the lack of information shared with the department by Schiff’s committee, saying that DHS had still not been told “why the officials it seeks to interview (in a transcribed manner, at that) have relevant knowledge.”
She also slammed the committee chairman for not providing DHS officials with an informal setting to brief members.
“With respect to the new inquiry, we are unable to engage in the accommodations process without knowing its context, scope, and legislative purpose,” she said.
Referencing the Inspector General complaint, filed earlier this month by Brian Murphy, the former head of the intelligence branch within DHS, the letter described it as “the sole basis of the Committee’s new inquiry.”
“As a reminder,” Spivey wrote, “the OIG Complaint relies entirely on the allegations of Mr. Murphy, whom you personally have accused of ‘deeply troubling’ professional misconduct and lying to Congress in an attempt to cover it up.”
Earlier this month, Murphy accused top Homeland Security officials of trying to censor or stop work related to threats from Russian influence activities or violent white supremacy.
Specifically, Murphy accused multiple current and former leaders of the department — including former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, acting Secretary Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli, the acting second-in-command at the department — of abuses in their positions.
After releasing the 24-page complaint, Schiff announced in a statement that his panel would subpoena Murphy to testify later this month.
The committee was already investigating the Trump administration’s response to the protests, but expanded the probe unilaterally after the “whistleblower” complaint was released.
Just prior to the complaint coming out, however, Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes (D-Calif.) accused Schiff of mishandling the probe.
Speaking to Breitbart News on its SiriusXM channel over the weekend, Nunes (R-Calif.) decried the investigation launched by the California Democrat earlier this month, arguing that those in the majority would use the effort to slam President Trump.
“[Democrats are] running an investigation from the Intelligence Committee, which has become the impeachment committee, on the situation that happened up in Seattle and Portland. But guess what? They’re running the investigation to see what federal assets did the Trump administration use and was it legal or not to keep the peace in the Pacific Northwest.
“So they are going to hold hearings, but they’re basically holding hearings to condemn the Trump administration for trying to save Americans’ lives and save Americans’ property and save us from all this looting and rioting and trying to keep under somewhat of some civil discourse here. So, they’re having hearings all right, but for the opposite reason,” the Trump ally told the outlet’s radio show.
A spokesperson for Schiff did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment on the new letter.
Who won the presidential debate? Experts grade Trump-Biden mess
President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, spent more than an hour during the first presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio, brawling over how best to manage the deadly coronavirus crisis, taxes, climate change, and a host of other domestic policy issues.
The messy debate frequently turned nasty, featuring shouting matches and repeated interruptions that left the moderator — Fox News’ Chris Wallace — and our panel of election experts deeply frustrated.
“Both landed some shots. Both interrupted too much and acted like children,” said Matt Mackowiak, a longtime Republican strategist, podcast host and chairman of the local Republican Party in Austin, Texas.
Another election night analyst for The Post, Liz Benjamin, is no stranger to rough-and-tumble politics. But this veteran of Albany — who covered it as a reporter, columnist and as the former longtime anchor of Capital Tonight before becoming a communications consultant — called it a “wash.”
“This was a wash,” she wrote. “Both candidates accomplished what they had to do by playing to their respective bases and avoiding any disqualifying gaffes.”
“There were memorable moments — ‘Would you shut up, man,’ — but no balls knocked out of the park,” she added, referencing one of Biden’s interjections.
That’s what our three analysts made of the sprawling 90-minute slugfest.
But longtime Staten Island Republican political strategist Leticia Remauro gave Trump a slight edge.
“Trump by a hair. He was forceful and solidified his base but loses points for interrupting,” wrote Remauro, a regular on New York 1’s ‘Inside City Hall’ who ran public relations for the Battery Park City Authority in the aftermath of the Sept. 11th terror attacks.
“Biden didn’t seem as strong but did exude compassion which feeds his base,” added Remauro, who is planning to run for Staten Island borough president on the GOP line in 2021.
They’ve broken down their analysis by the seven key portions of the debate tonight.
The Trump and Biden Records:
- Remauro: Biden wins this one by appearing fatherly by defending his son against an aggressive Trump attack regarding Hunter’s addiction. Way too personal. Trump error — Trump C-/Biden B+
- Benjamin: Trump seeks to cast Biden as a career politician, while defending his own record on the economy and deflecting on the COVID crisis. Biden uses the old “are you better off now” standard, gets hot under the collar when Trump attacks his son, but — to his credit — doesn’t lose it completely. Neither comes out the clear victor here — Biden: C/Trump: C
- Mackowiak: I don’t even remember this section. This whole debate was a mess. — Biden: C- / Trump: C-
The Supreme Court:
- Remauro: Trump by a hair. Even though Trump was hyperbolic and argumentative, he explained why he was within his rights to appoint his nominee. Biden capably turned the discussion to the Affordable Care Act but bungled his thoughts and didn’t land his punch. Biden deftly skipped over answering the ‘pack the court’ question but I don’t think that helped with his base — Biden: C / Trump: B-
- Benjamin: Trump comes out swinging in this opening question and unapologetically employs the “to the victor goes the spoils” argument. Biden off to a weak start, though he pivots to protecting the Affordable Care Act – a significant Democratic touchstone — Trump: A-/ Biden: C
- Mackowiak: The most important moment was Biden refusing to deny he would pack the court. — Biden: C- / Trump: B-
- Remauro: This is a draw. Biden hit all his talking points and evoked emotion for lost loved ones. Trump landed punches pointing out Biden mishandling of H1N1 and that Biden didn’t want to shutdown the country early. Both fed their base — Trump: B / Biden: B
- Benjamin: Trump is on the defensive and falls back on blaming China, loses points by criticizing Biden for wearing a mask while his own family members sit in the audience wearing masks. Biden, who has no record to defend here, scores some direct hits, appeals to families who have lost loved ones to COVID — Biden: A-/Trump D
- Mackowiak: Biden made Trump play defense. He prosecuted the case effectively — Biden: A- / Trump: C-
- Remauro: Trump wins this one by reminding people that Biden wants to keep the economy shut down, Biden basically agrees but gets in a shot for his base when he says only billionaires are making money now — Biden: B / Trump: A
- Benjamin: Trump deflects, seeking again to shift blame for the COVID-induced economic crisis by pointing at Democratic governors who haven’t fully opened their states. Biden again plays to the left, where he needs to shore up support, by going after millionaires and billionaires who have prospered during the pandemic. Also smartly pivots back to the COVID crisis — Biden: B+/Trump: C
- Mackowiak: Trump won this exchange by making forceful arguments defending his record and criticizing the weak recovery during the Obama-Biden years — Biden: C / Trump: B+
Race, Violence and Law Enforcement:
- Remauro: Trump wins this one because he brought the conversation back to law and order and reminded viewers that the violence in the street was sparked by BLM protests, which concerns the base of both men. Biden never landed a punch, though he was eloquent in his opening statement — Biden: C / Trump: A
- Benjamin: Trump leans into sending federal troops into cities roiled by racial unrest and protests, scores some points with the right by accusing Biden of being anti-cop and too cowed by the left, but refuses to outright denounce white supremacists. Biden tries to walk a delicate line by denouncing violence AND racism, but comes out wishy washy on both. Neither was terribly strong here — Trump: C- / Biden C–
- Mackowiak: Trump was fairly effective here. But he missed an opportunity to call out white supremacists by name — Biden: B- / Trump: B
The Integrity of the Election:
- Remauro: Trump by a hair, because Trump, Biden and Wallace agreed that the election wouldn’t be decided on Election Day and the viewers were left with unanswered questions about whether the paper ballots could be counted properly. Biden: B- / Trump: B
- Benjamin: Biden takes the high road and promises to accept the outcome of the election, while urging Americans to vote and promising to call for calm as ballots are counted – a strong moment for him. Trump again raises questions about the veracity of the results, makes unfounded allegations of widespread fraud and seeks to undermine the very foundation of small-d democracy — Trump: D / Biden, B+
- Mackowiak: Neither won and neither lost on this subject — Biden: B / Trump: B
Chris Wallace caught in middle of Trump-Biden debate
There were only two candidates on stage at Tuesday night’s first presidential debate — but it was a three-way battle.
Moderator and Fox News anchor Chris Wallace struggled throughout the contest to maintain order, as President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden routinely talked over both him and each other.
“Gentlemen!” a fed-up Wallace finally snapped after one prolonged period of cross-talk. “I hate to raise my voice, but why shouldn’t I be different than the two of you?”
On multiple occasions, Wallace had to remind both candidates not to cut off each other’s responses during the two uninterrupted minutes they were supposed to have at the start of each new segment, as agreed to by both campaigns.
Trump in particular repeatedly wrestled with Wallace for control of the conversation, exemplified during one early exchange over Trump’s efforts to draft an alternative to Obamacare.
“You’re debating him, not me,” Wallace reminded Trump, gesturing towards Biden.
As the back-and-forth continued, Trump eventually came to the opposite conclusion.
“I guess I’m debating you, not him,” Trump told Wallace. “But that’s OK, no surprise.”
Trump tells Biden he’ll ‘shut him down’ in first presidential debate
President Trump on Tuesday told Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden he needed to “shut [him] down” as he defended his national reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“He wants to shut down this country. And I want to keep it open,” Trump said as Biden tried to jump in.
“Wait a minute, Joe. Let me shut you down for a second,” Trump said over the interruption at the first presidential debate.
The moment was cheered online by Trump’s supporters including White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who tweeted from her personal account it showed Trump “DOMINATING!!!”
It was one of many pointed exchanges in the debate.
Before the witty knock-down, Biden complained aloud about Trump, “Will he just shush for a moment?” and told the commander in chief during a different exchange, “Shut up, man!”
Trump accused Biden of wanting to impose another lockdown if he becomes president — referring to Biden saying last month he would seek to re-impose harsh restrictions if scientists advised it.
Debate moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News asked Biden about his relative reluctance to reopen the economy and schools.
“Because he doesn’t have a plan. If I were running it, I would know what the plan is. You’ve got to provide these businesses the ability to have the money to be able to reopen with the PPE as well as with sanitation they need,” Biden said.
Trump interrupted: “Tell it to Nancy Pelosi,” the speaker of the House, with whom Senate Republicans are locked in a standoff over a new COVID-19 relief package — with Senate Democrats this month blocking GOP legislation with unemployment funds.
“Tell it to Nancy Pelosi and Schumer, crying Chuck,” Trump said.
“They have a plan. He won’t even meet with them,” Biden said.
Trump said it was appropriate to reopen the country because “we learned a lot” about the novel virus and about who was most vulnerable.
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