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November 10, 2020

Chairman Thompson Demands DHS Ensure Records are Preserved

Chairman Also Seeks Documents on Potential “Burrowing,” Contracting Actions During Transition

(WASHINGTON) – Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, sent a letter to the Honorable Chad Wolf of the Department of Homeland Security to make clear the Committee’s expectation that – given the Department’s history of withholding documents from the Committee, defying lawful subpoenas, and improperly stymying Congressional oversight and investigations – DHS must preserve, in accordance with the Federal Records Act and all applicable Federal laws, all records created during the Trump Administration.

In addition to demanding documents responsive to outstanding subpoenas and requests, Chairman Thompson also requests new information from the Department to ensure that no Trump Administration political appointees are transferred to the competitive service, excepted service, or Senior Executive Service – a practice commonly known as ‘burrowing.’ Chairman Thompson also seeks to make sure the Department does not enter any long-term contracting decisions given President Trump’s persistent and vocal attempts to influence the Federal procurement process.

Letter excerpt:

Throughout the Trump Administration, including during the time in which you have purportedly served as the Acting Secretary, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has repeatedly withheld from the Committee the documents and information it has sought as part of its ongoing oversight of the Department’s actions.  Both you and the Department have even willfully defied subpoenas issued by the Committee.

The Department’s repeated refusal to cooperate with the Committee’s oversight requests—which are essential to effectuating the separation of powers established by the U.S. Constitution—stands in direct contravention of the legal obligations of the Department, as have the Trump Administration’s many improper and politically motivated actions.  However, the Committee’s investigations of these actions will continue until we have understood all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the many harms caused by the Trump Administration’s policies.

Now, with the forthcoming transition of presidential administrations, I write today to make clear the Committee’s expectation that the Department will preserve, in accordance with all applicable Federal laws, all records created during the Trump Administration. 

I also write to set forth the Committee’s expectations regarding the Department’s provision of documents and communications previously subpoenaed by the Committee, as well as the many documents and communications requested by the Committee as part of our ongoing investigations.

Finally, the Committee is making new requests for documents and communications pertaining to the Department’s personnel actions and contracting actions, including any such actions taken between now and January 20, 2021. 

Chairman Thompson also signed letters today with other House Committee Chairs to the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Election Assistance Commission to demand the agencies comply with federal record-keeping laws and preserve information responsive to congressional subpoenas and investigations.

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