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Schiff: US intelligence agencies stonewalling to avoid Trump’s ire

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., at a Capitol Hill press event on Jan. 3, 2018.

JOE GROMELSKI/STARS AND STRIPES

By STEVE GEIMANN | Bloomberg News | Published: January 19, 2020

WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — 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,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “The intelligence community is reluctant to have an open hearing,” Schiff said, “because they’re worried about angering the president.”

In the past, Schiff’s committee has 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.

A year ago the Senate Intelligence Committee heard from the heads of key agencies, including the CIA and the 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.

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

The lawmaker said the CIA might 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.

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