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House chairman threatens to subpoena Pompeo over Iran policy hearing

Posted January 17, 2020 4:25 p.m. EST

— The Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Friday threatened to subpoena the nation's top diplomat to testify about the Trump administration's policy in Iran and Iraq.

Rep. Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat, requested that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appear before the committee on Wednesday, January 29. Pompeo did not appear at a hearing on the same matter earlier in the week after being invited by the chairman the week prior.

"As the Administration's public face of this policy, your participation at this hearing is necessary so that the committee can conduct appropriate oversight and consider legislative alternatives related to the use of military force as well as the strategy and aims of American policy in Iran, Iraq, and the broader Middle East," Engel wrote in Friday's letter. "I consider your testimony to be of extremely high importance and am prepared to use all legal means to ensure your attendance."

The State Department did not immediately reply to an inquiry as to whether Pompeo would participate. He was in California at the time of the earlier hearing.

Engel's renewed invitation comes the same week that the Trump administration abruptly canceled four classified congressional briefings related to the ongoing situation with Iran and Iraq. Senate and House aides confirmed to CNN that the State Department had called off two briefings on Wednesday -- one on embassy security and another with senior State Department officials about the administration's Iran policy and authorities for the use of force.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment about the cancellation. However, when asked by CNN about the cancellation of the latter at a briefing on Friday, Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said he believed "it was just simply a scheduling conflict."

In a separate closed-door hearing that same day, FBI officials had been expected to brief a group of House lawmakers on counterintelligence issues related to Iran, but the plans were abruptly changed, according to two sources familiar with the planning. The FBI did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.

A fourth classified hearing from the House Armed Services Committee on Iran with a top Pentagon official was also canceled because of scheduling issues, according to a US defense official and House aide.

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