U.S. House panel postpones whistleblower deposition on Department of Homeland Security

19 Sep 2020 / 01:22 H.

    By Mark Hosenball

    WASHINGTON, Sept 18 (Reuters) - A congressional panel is postponing a closed door deposition with a former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) intelligence chief because of delays in obtaining access to classified records and approval of security clearances for his lawyers.

    Mark Zaid, a lawyer for the former official Brian Murphy, who has filed a whistleblower complaint, said on Friday that "Monday's deposition is going to be rescheduled."

    In the complaint released earlier this month, Murphy said acting DHS chief Chad Wolf told 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.

    Zaid said DHS was working on arranging security clearances for legal counsel. "DHS needs to allow Mr. Murphy to have immediate access to the relevant classified information that supports his whistleblower complaint," Zaid said.

    A DHS spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Zaid said that if DHS wanted to resolve the access issues it could do so rapidly, but that its apparent slow movement is "reflective of an agency that is cooperating begrudgingly."

    Congress is scheduled to meet for two weeks more before recessing for the election, so it is unclear when Murphy's deposition will now be taken by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives Intelligence Committee. The Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee also is looking into Murphy's complaint. (Reporting By Mark Hosenball; editing by Grant McCool)

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