Acting homeland security secretary finally agrees to testify

Colleen Long
Associated Press

Washington – Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan has agreed to testify Wednesday before a House committee on global terrorism.

McAleenan had challenged a subpoena sent to him by the House Homeland Security Committee. He had said he could not attend the hearing because it would be held on his second-to-last day in office, and he was focused on the transition.

In the end, he agreed to appear. Chairman Bennie Thompson sent McAleenan a letter Tuesday that said the subpoena had been withdrawn.

FILE - In this Sept. 20, 2019, file photo, acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection headquarters in Washington.

The hearing is on terrorism, but it’s highly likely the lawmakers will ask McAleenan about his time within the administration.

A replacement has not yet been named. McAleenan had been in the acting position for about six months after former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen quit.

McAleenan sent a letter to Thompson on Friday saying he was surprised and disappointed to get the subpoena a day earlier. McAleenan had suggested that the department’s top intelligence officer testify in his stead.

The 240,000-person Department of Homeland Security is tasked with election security and cybersecurity, disaster response and even the Secret Service.

The hearing Wednesday is about terrorist threats facing the country, and Thompson had said McAleenan was uniquely positioned to speak about the concerns.

“I recognize the need for an orderly transition, particularly since your still-unnamed successor will be the Department’s fifth Secretary in less than three years,” Thompson said in a letter to McAleenan.

“Indeed, the committee has serious questions about how the unprecedented upheaval at secretary and persistent vacancies across Department leadership are affecting DHS’s ability to respond to threats facing the homeland,” Thompson said.