Sept. 19 (UPI) -- House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel has subpoenaed U.S. global media chief Michael Pack amid fears of bias.
Democrats fear Pack, the CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media since June, an appointee of President Donald Trump, and close ally of former Trump aide Steve Bannon, will move to reshape the leadership and independence of news organizations, such as Voice of America, to be biased in favor of Trump.
The House Affairs panel called Pack to testify after a series of firings in June, Pack's first month on the job, including the heads of three international broadcast networks for Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Critics fear Pack will jeopardize the independence of broadcast networks, charged with objectively reporting about the United States and its foreign policy to an international audience of 350 million people.
Engel, D-N.Y., said Friday Pack planned to back out on his commitment to appear at a Sept. 24 hearing.
"His office failed to provide any reasonable alternative dates and his excuse for breaking his commitment is not acceptable," Engle said in a statement.
Pack has insisted the firings were a routine part of new leadership at the organization and a U.S. Agency for Global Media spokesperson said Friday that Pack couldn't attend due to a scheduling conflict.
"Michael Pack is disappointed that the Committee has decided to escalate the situation," the spokesperson said in a statement. "Pack is eager to testify before the Committee to talk about the critical work of USAGM and to answer members' questions."
Senate Republicans pushed through the conservative filmmaker's confirmation to the U.S. Agency for Global Media back in June despite objections from Democrats, who said that the process should be stalled pending the District of Columbia attorney general's investigation into whether he illegally funneled money from his nonprofit group to his for-profit film company.