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Career Official Testimony Precedent

I. Introduction

Top Trump Administration officials sought to block Congress from obtaining information from career agency officials. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for example, objected to congressional requests to depose State Department officials, asserting that the requests constituted “an attempt to intimidate, bully, and treat improperly the distinguished professionals of the Department of State, including several career foreign service officers.” Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt defended his agency’s failure to schedule interviews of career employees requested by Congress by stating “when you want to shoot at me, that comes with the territory,” but “you’re talking about individual employees that have been long-standing employees within the Department.” This position is contrary to federal law, which makes it illegal for any government official to prevent career officials from sharing information with Congress. 

It is also contrary to long-standing congressional precedent. Obtaining testimony of career federal agency officials has long been a critical means for congressional investigators to conduct oversight over the executive branch. Oversight committees have frequently interviewed, deposed, and received hearing testimony from career agency employees. For example, in just the two-month period during the Obama Administration between May and June 2011, at least 103 career officials testified before Congress. In a comparable two-month period during the Bush Administration between May and June 2007, at least 97 career officials testified before Congress. 

Many congressional investigations have involved extensive testimony from career employees. For example, the House Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi -- on which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo served when he was a member of Congress -- interviewed over 60 career officials in the Departments of State and Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency. The Senate Special Committee to Investigate Whitewater Development Corporation and Related Matters took testimony from over 30 career officials across the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of the Treasury, and the White House.

Career civil servants who have provided testimony to oversight proceedings have held a wide variety of positions, including:

  • Diplomatic security officers
  • Secret Service special agents
  • Intelligence analysts
  • Enlisted military personnel
  • Executive assistants in the Office of White House Counsel
  • Procurement and contracting specialists
  • Budget analysts
  • Scientists
  • Energy loans program counsel
  • Park Police officers
  • Drone pilots

Beyond the voluminous public record of career official testimony to Congress, there also have been numerous instances where congressional committees obtained testimony from career officials in transcribed interviews to advance committee oversight without even publicly identifying these individual witnesses.

III. Select Examples By Agency

A. Central Intelligence Agency

  • Unnamed Director, Office of Terrorism Analysis, transcribed interview, House Select Committee on Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack on Benghazi, investigation of the 2012 attack on the State Department compound in Libya (2015-16)
  • Unnamed Chief of Operations, Near East Division, transcribed interview, House Select Committee on Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack on Benghazi, investigation of the 2012 attack on the State Department compound in Libya (2015-16)
  • Unnamed members of Global Response Staff (six), transcribed interviews, House Select Committee on Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack on Benghazi, investigation of the 2012 attack on the State Department compound in Libya (2015-16)
  • Unnamed Chief of Base, transcribed interview, House Select Committee on Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack on Benghazi, investigation of the 2012 attack on the State Department compound in Libya (2015-16)
  • Unnamed Deputy Chief of Base, transcribed interview, House Select Committee on Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack on Benghazi, investigation of the 2012 attack on the State Department compound in Libya (2015-16)
  • Unnamed Officer A, transcribed interview, House Select Committee on Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack on Benghazi, investigation of the 2012 attack on the State Department compound in Libya (2015-16)
  • Unnamed Officer B, transcribed interview, House Select Committee on Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack on Benghazi, investigation of the 2012 attack on the State Department compound in Libya (2015-16)
  • Unnamed Officer C, transcribed interview, House Select Committee on Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack on Benghazi, investigation of the 2012 attack on the State Department compound in Libya (2015-16)
  • Unnamed Chief of Station, Tripoli, transcribed interview, House Select Committee on Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack on Benghazi, investigation of the 2012 attack on the State Department compound in Libya (2015-16)
  • Other unnamed CIA official, transcribed interview, House Select Committee on Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack on Benghazi, investigation of the 2012 attack on the State Department compound in Libya (2015-16)

B. Commerce Department

  • Stephen M. Volz, Assistant Administrator, National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, hearing testimony, House Committee on Science oversight of weather satellite programs and policies (2015)

C. Defense Department

  • Bryan O’Neal, U.S. Army Specialist, hearing testimony, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, oversight of Bush Administration public representations regarding battlefield information (2007)
  • Stephen White, Senior Chief Petty Officer, U.S. Navy, hearing testimony, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, oversight of Bush Administration public representations regarding battlefield information (2007)
  • Jessica Lynch, Private, U.S. Army, hearing testimony, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, oversight of Bush Administration public representations regarding battlefield information (2007)
  • Kevin Tillman, Former Army Ranger, hearing testimony, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, oversight of Bush Administration public representations regarding battlefield information (2007)
  • Unnamed Commander’s in Extremis Force (CIF) Commander, transcribed interview, House Select Committee on Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack on Benghazi, investigation of the 2012 attack on the State Department compound in Libya (2015-16) 
  • Unnamed C-17 Pilot, transcribed interview, House Select Committee on Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack on Benghazi, investigation of the 2012 attack on the State Department compound in Libya (2015-16)
  • Unnamed Defense Attache, transcribed interview, House Select Committee on Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack on Benghazi, investigation of the 2012 attack on the State Department compound in Libya (2015-16)
  • Unnamed Drone Pilots (2), transcribed interview, House Select Committee on Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack on Benghazi, investigation of the 2012 attack on the State Department compound in Libya (2015-16)
  • Unnamed Commander, Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team, Marine Corps, transcribed interview, House Select Committee on Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack on Benghazi, investigation of the 2012 attack on the State Department compound in Libya (2015-16)
  • Unnamed Sensor Operators (2), transcribed interviews, House Select Committee on Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack on Benghazi, investigation of the 2012 attack on the State Department compound in Libya (2015-16)
  • Unnamed Special Operator, transcribed interview, House Select Committee on Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack on Benghazi, investigation of the 2012 attack on the State Department compound in Libya (2015-16)

D. Energy Department

  • Dr. Imre Gyuk, Energy Storage Program Manager, Office of Electricity and Energy Reliability, hearing testimony, House Committee on Science, oversight of battery storage innovations (2015)
  • Guido DeHoratiis, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Gas, Office of Fossil Energy, hearing testimony, House Committee on Science, oversight of federal hydraulic fracturing research activities (2013)
  • Scott Klara, Deputy Lab Director, National Technology Laboratory, hearing testimony, House Committee on Science, oversight of coal research (2011)
  • David Frantz, Director, Loan Guarantee Program Office, hearing testimony, House Committee on Science, oversight of DOE clean technology programs (2011); Committee staff interview, House Committee on Energy and Commerce, oversight of decision by DOE to guarantee a loan for solar company Solyndra (2012)
  • Dr. Victor Der, Acting Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, hearing testimony, House Committee on Science, oversight of offshore drilling and response technologies (2011)
  • Jacques Beaudry-Losique, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, hearing testimony, House Committee on Science, oversight of marine and hydrokinetic energy technology (2010)
  • Dr. Edmund Synakowski, Director, Office of Fusion Energy Science, Office of Fusion Energy Science, hearing testimony, House Committee on Science, oversight of fusion energy research (2009)
  • Dr. Jehanne Gillo, Director for Facilities and Project Management Division, Office of Nuclear Physics, hearing testimony, House Committee on Science, oversight of biological research for energy and medical applications (2009)
  • Susan Richardson, Chief Counsel, Loan Programs Office, Committee staff interview, House Committee on Energy and Commerce, oversight of decision by DOE to guarantee a loan for solar company Solyndra (2012)

E. Environmental Protection Agency

  • Dr. Fred Hauchman, Director, Office of Science Policy in the Office of Research and Development, hearing testimony, House Committee on Science, oversight of EPA’s investigations of hydraulic fracturing (2013)
  • Dr. Kevin Teichman, Senior Science Advisor, Office of Research and Development, hearing testimony, House Committee on Science, oversight of EPA’s risk information system (2009); and hearing testimony, House Committee on Science, hydraulic fracturing research activities (2013)
  • Maureen Delaney, Program Analyst, Office of Air and Radiation, transcribed interview, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, oversight of Bush Administration decision to deny California’s petition to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks (2007-2008)
  • Margaret Oge, Director, Office of Transportation and Air Quality, transcribed interview, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, oversight of Bush Administration decision to deny California’s petition to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks (2007-2008)
  • Ben DeAngelo, Climate Change Analyst, transcribed interview, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, oversight of Bush Administration decision to deny California’s petition to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks (2007-2008)
  • Karl Simon, Director, Compliance and Innovative Strategies Division, transcribed interview, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, oversight of Bush Administration decision to deny California’s petition to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks (2007-2008)
  • Dina Washburn Kruger, Director, Climate Change Division, transcribed interview, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, oversight of Bush Administration decision to deny California’s petition to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks (2007-2008)
  • Brian McLean, Director, Office of Atmospheric Programs, transcribed interview, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, oversight of Bush Administration decision to deny California’s petition to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks (2007-2008)

F. Health and Human Services

  • Captain Krista M. Pedley, Director, Office of Pharmacy Affairs, Health Resources and Services Administration, hearing testimony, House Committee on Energy and Commerce, oversight of the 340B Drug Pricing Program (2017)
  • Henry Chao, Deputy Chief Information Office and Deputy Director, Office of Information Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, hearing testimony, House Committee on Energy and Commerce, oversight of Healthcare.gov website for enrollment under the Affordable Care Act (2013)
  • Dr. Robin Ikeda, Acting Director, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, hearing testimony, House Committee on Science, oversight of federal hydraulic fracturing research activities (2013)

G. Interior Department

  • Dr. David Russ, Regional Executive, Northeast Area, U.S. Geological Survey, hearing testimony, House Committee on Science, oversight of federal hydraulic fracturing research activities (2013)
  • Gary Frazer, assistant director, endangered species, at DOI’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, hearing testimony, House Committee on Science, oversight of the Endangered Species Act (2011)
  • Tom Hartman, Economic Specialist, Bureau of Indian Gaming, deposition testimony, House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, oversight of alleged campaign finance improprieties (1997-1998)
  • George Skibine, Director, Bureau of Indian Gaming, hearing testimony, House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, oversight of alleged campaign finance improprieties (1997-1998); deposition testimony, Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, oversight of alleged campaign finance improprieties (1997-1998)

H. Justice Department

  • Howard S. Marshall, Deputy Assistant Director, Cyber Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, hearing testimony, House Committee on Small Business, examination of small business sharing of information on cyber threats (2018)
  • John Dodson, Special Agent, Phoenix Field Division, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, hearing testimony, House Committee on Government Reform, oversight of BATF (2017)
  • Louis J. Milione, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Diversion Control, Drug Enforcement Administration, hearing testimony, House Committee on the Judiciary, examination of opioid treatment markets (2016)
  • Tracy Toulou, Director, Office of Tribal Justice, Office of Tribal Justice, hearing testimony, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, oversight of Tribal Law and Order Act (2015)
  • Joseph T. Rannazzisi, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Diversion Control, Drug Enforcement Administration, hearing testimony, House Committee on Energy and Commerce, oversight of enforcement of the Controlled Substance Act (2014)
  • Thomas Brandon, Deputy Director, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, hearing testimony, House Committee on the Judiciary, oversight of use of storefront operations (2014)
  • Melanie Ann Pustay, Director, Office of Information Policy, hearing testimony, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, oversight of the Freedom of Information Act (2014)
  • Michael T. Harpster, Deputy Assistant Director, Criminal Investigative Division, hearing testimony, House Committee on the Judiciary, oversight of minor sex trafficking (2014)
  • Richard Quinn, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, hearing testimony, House Homeland Security Committee, Subcommittee on Cyber Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Securities Technologies, review of efforts to prevent cybercrime (2014)
  • Charles La Bella, former Chief, Campaign Finance Task Force, hearing testimony, House Committee on Government Reform, oversight of the independent counsel law (1998)
  • James DeSarno, Assistant Director, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, hearing testimony, House Committee on Government Reform, oversight of the independent counsel law (1998)
  • Lee Radek, Chief, Public Integrity Division, hearing testimony, House Committee on Government Reform, oversight of implementation of the independent counsel law (2000)
  • One Department of Justice line attorney and one FBI field agent, testimony, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, investigation of environmental crimes at Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Facility (1992)
  • FBI attorneys who were members of the Brooklyn Organized Crime Strike Force, hearing testimony,  Senate Select Committee to Study Undercover Law Enforcement Activities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (1982)
  • Department staff attorney, hearing testimony, House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, jointly with the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Crime,  investigation of the decision not to prosecute a case relating to oil pricing fraud (1979) 
  • Two Department attorneys, testimony, House Judiciary Committee Antitrust Subcommittee, investigation of Department decisions in negotiating and implementing a consent decree between oil interests and AT&T (1957-58)
  • Department attorneys and agents, testimony, House Judiciary Committee Special Subcommittee to Investigate the Department of Justice, two-year review of alleged abuses in the Department of Justice (1952-53) 
  • Present and former Department of Justice and Bureau of Investigation attorneys and agents, testimony, the Senate Select Committee on Investigation of the Attorney General, inquiry into Department of Justice decisions not to prosecute alleged corruption in the Department of the Interior (1924)

I. Office of Management and Budget

  • Courtney Timberlake, Assistant Director, Budget Review Division, Committee staff interview, House Committee on Energy and Commerce, oversight of decision by DOE to guarantee a loan for solar company Solyndra (2012)
  • Kevin Carroll, Energy Branch Chief, Committee staff interview, House Committee on Energy and Commerce, oversight of decision by DOE to guarantee a loan for solar company Solyndra (2012)
  • Kelly Colyar, Program Examiner, Energy Branch, Committee staff interview, House Committee on Energy and Commerce, oversight of decision by DOE to guarantee a loan for solar company Solyndra (2012)
  • Fouad Saad, Program Examiner, Energy Branch, Committee staff interview, House Committee on Energy and Commerce, oversight of decision by DOE to guarantee a loan for solar company Solyndra (2012)

J. State Department

The House Select Committee on Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack on Benghazi conducted dozens of transcribed interviews of career officials at the State Department during the Committee’s investigation of the 2012 attack on the State Department compound in Libya (2014-16). These included: 

  • Unnamed Diplomatic Security Agents (20)
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs, Diplomatic Security, Charlene Lamb
  •  Deputy Assistant Secretary for Countermeasures, Diplomatic Security, Gentry Smith
  • Unnamed Physical Security Specialist
  • Unnamed Foreign Service Officers (4)
  • Deputy Chief of Mission, Libya (2)
  • Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Raymond Maxwell
  • Unnamed Deputy Director, Office of Maghreb Affairs, Near Eastern Affairs Bureau
  • Unnamed Senior Libyan Desk Officer, Office of Maghreb Affairs, Near Eastern Affairs Bureau
  • Unnamed Contracting Official
  • Unnamed Spokesperson, Near Eastern Affairs Bureau
  • Unnamed Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications, Near Eastern Affairs Bureau
  • Unnamed Post Management Officer for Libya
  • Unnamed Agency Records Officer, Records and Archives Management Division
  • Director, Information Resource Management
  • Special Advisor, Information Resource Management, Bryan Pagliano

K. Treasury Department

  • Terence V. Milholland, Chief Technology Officer, Internal Revenue Service, hearing testimony, Senate Committee on Finance, oversight of cybersecurity and taxpayer information (2016)
  • Present and former career IRS employees, Committee interviews, Senate Committee on Finance, inquiry into IRS conduct toward non-profit organizations (2013-2015). These career employees included, among others: Revenue agents for exempt organization determinations, exempt organizations technical manager and director of rulings and agreements, program manager, rulings and agreements, and tax law specialists
  • Over 50 current and former IRS employees, Committee interviews, House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, review of IRS conduct toward non-profit organizations (2012-2014)
  • Arnold Cole, Special Agent, U.S. Secret Service (then part of Treasury), hearing testimony, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, oversight of White House background screening process (1996)
  • John Libonati, U.S. Secret Service (then part of Treasury), hearing testimony, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, oversight of White House background screening process (1996)
  • Jeffrey Undercoffer, U.S. Secret Service (then part of Treasury), hearing testimony, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, oversight of White House background screening process (1996)

L. White House Career Officials

  • Daniel A. Barry, Computer Specialist, White House Office of Administration, Committee staff interview and hearing testimony, House Committee on Government Reform, oversight of White House email systems (2000)
  • James Wright, IS&T Data Center Branch Chief, White House Office of Administration, Committee staff interview, House Committee on Government Reform, oversight of White House email systems (2000)
  • Kathleen Gallant, former IS&T Director, White House Office of Administration, Committee staff interview, House Committee on Government Reform, oversight of White House email systems (2000)
  • Karl Heissner, IS&T Systems Integration and Development Branch Chief, White House Office of Administration, hearing testimony and deposition testimony, House Committee on Government Reform, oversight of the White House email systems (2000)
  • Mark Bartholomew, White House technical staff, deposition testimony, House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, oversight of the White House holiday card list (1997-1998)
  • Jerry Carlsen, Manager, Systems Integration and Development Branch, White House Office of Administration, deposition testimony, House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, oversight of the White House holiday card list (1997-1998)
  • Charles Easley, Director, White House Security Office, hearing testimony, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, oversight of the White House background screening process (1996)
  • Billy Dale, Director, White House Travel Office, hearing testimony, House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, oversight of firings in White House Travel Office (1996)
  • Robert Van Eimeren, Employee, White House Travel Office, Committee staff interview, House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, oversight of firings in White House travel office (1995)

IV. Analysis of Appearances Across Representative Periods of Time

To assess how common testimony of career officials is, Co-Equal reviewed a two-month period in 2007 during the George W. Bush Administration after Democrats regained control of the House and Senate and a comparable two-month period in 2011 after Republicans regained control of the House during the Obama Administration. This review of the two two-month periods showed extensive testimony by career officials testifying routinely before committees. In this randomly selected two month snapshot, at least 97 career officials serving during the George W. Bush Administration testified before the House and Senate between May and June 2007 and at least 103 career officials in the Obama Administration testified before Congress between May and June in 2011.

The full list of career officials who testified during these two two-month periods can be found here.