Internal emails and documents show that the White House attempted to block a State Department senior intelligence analyst from addressing climate science during congressional testimony earlier last week, The New York Times reports.
The department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research chose not to make changes to the testimony and the analyst, Rod Schoonover, was indeed allowed to speak before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Wednesday. Schoonover is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.
The White House, however, refused to approve Schoonover’s written testimony to be included in the permanent Congressional Record. According to a June 4 email that was viewed by The New York Times, the reasoning was that the science in question did not align with the views of the Trump administration.
“The testimony still has serious concerns with internal components and focuses heavily on the science,” writes Daniel Q. Greenwood, deputy assistant to the president in the White House office of legislative affairs. “Because it doesn’t reflect the coordinated [intelligence community] position, or the administration’s position, there is no way this can be cleared ahead of the hearing,” he wrote.
When asked for comment, a White House spokesperson indicated that the administration does not comment on internal policy reviews. Also declining to comment was the National Security Council and the State Department, who each referred questions to the White House.
Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the conservative policy group the American Enterprise Institute, said that it is not uncommon for the White House to screen agency testimony to make sure it does not contradict administration policy.
“I have never heard of basic facts being deleted from or blocked from testimony,” he said, however, indicating that for the most part a verbal presentation would be interpreted as the position of that individual, not necessarily the administration. Ornstein indicated that blocking the written testimony was significant and that the written testimony is generally a more formal position of a department.
A document tracking changes in the written testimony reveals quite a few adjustments, including edits on nearly every page. Individuals familiar with the document said the notes were from William Happer, a physicist and White House adviser who denies the scientific consensus on global warming.
“This is not objective testimony at all,” one comment read. “It includes lots of climate alarm propaganda that is not science at all. I am embarrassed to have this go out on behalf of the executive branch of the Federal Government.”