WASHINGTON — A House intelligence committee meeting was abruptly terminated when Justice Department officials refused to be sworn in before briefing the lawmakers.
The officials had been expected to brief the committee Wednesday on the department’s review of an internal CIA report on the 2001 shootdown of a plane over Peru that was carrying American missionaries. Two of the passengers were killed.
Officials are routinely sworn in before giving testimony at formal congressional hearings, but the meeting was billed as an informal briefing — which normally does not require taking an oath.
Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said Justice employees “have previously briefed committee staff on this matter and were prepared to provide a similar informal briefing to committee members.”
“We are unaware of any precedent for Department officials providing informal briefings to be placed under oath,” she said.
Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., the top Republican on the committee, questioned Wednesday why the Justice officials refused to be sworn in. “Why is Attorney General Eric Holder afraid of having Justice Department employees be required to tell the truth?” Hoekstra said.
Hoekstra said Justice’s refusal to brief under oath is part of a “disturbing pattern that has emerged of the Obama administration refusing or finding reasons to refuse to share information with Congress.”
Both the House and the Senate intelligence committees have advanced legislation that would require more intelligence disclosures to Congress, though the details of the bills differ. The Obama administration has threatened to veto the House legislation if it is passed.
Hoekstra has raised concerns about the CIA’s handling of the Peru incident, saying the classified CIA report identified the names of personnel who misled Congress and obstructed a Justice Department investigation into whether criminal charges should have been filed in the case. The Justice Department in 2005 decided against filing charges.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards honors staffer who died from COVID-19
Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-LA) offered a moving tribute to a member of his staff who died from COVID-19.
"On behalf of the first lady and my entire administration, it is with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of our dear April, who succumbed to complications from COVID-19," he posted on Twitter, along with photos.
"She brightened everyone’s day with her smile and was an inspiration to everyone who met her," he continued.
"She lived her life to the fullest and improved the lives of countless Louisianans with disabilities as a dedicated staff member in the Governor's Office of Disability Affairs. April worked hard as an advocate for herself & other members of the disability community," he wrote.
Washington state nurses share shocking stories from their war against coronavirus
by Ken Armstrong and Vianna Davila
Nurses at one hospital in southeastern Washington state have alleged that, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they were ordered by supervisors to use one protective mask per shift, potentially exposing themselves to the novel coronavirus.
At another hospital, just east of Seattle, nurses had to use face shields indefinitely.
At a third hospital, on Washington’s border with Oregon, nurses reported that respirators were expired. The hospital responded, the nurses said, by ordering staff to remove stickers showing that the respirators might be as much as three years out of date.
‘His incompetence will cost lives’: Joe Biden goes after Trump on coronavirus in new 2020 campaign ad
Former Vice President is continuing to campaign for president in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic hitting America.
On Saturday, Biden went after Trump on the issue of coronavirus testing.
"Where are the tests, Mr. President?" Biden asked.
Biden followed up with an online video warning that lives will be needlessly lost.
"His failure will cost lives," the video says. "His downplaying will cost lives. His incompetence will cost lives."