A senior DHS official says he was concerned about “willfully withholding intelligence information from Congress.”
In an explosive whistleblower complaint filed on Tuesday, a senior official with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) alleged that he was directed to change intelligence reports to suit the Trump administration’s needs. Those reports included warnings on white supremacist violence in the United States and Russian interference in the 2020 election.
According to The Washington Post, the complaint from Brian Murphy alleges that Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf and Acting Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Ken Cuccinelli both directed Murphy to change intelligence reports to reflect President Donald Trump’s talking points. Murphy accused both men of abusing their power to change intelligence information so it aligned with President Trump’s narrative on Russia and violence.
National security agencies have been ringing the alarm about Russian interference in the upcoming election for months. Most recently, the FBI warned both Facebook and Twitter that the Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-backed operation that spread disinformation on social media in 2016, has returned for the 2020 election. According to the New York Times, the Internet Research Agency’s campaign this year included a fake, left-wing website designed to be critical of the Biden-Harris ticket.
Murphy’s complaint also appears to confirm reporting last week that the Trump administration buried a July intelligence report that indicated Russian interference in the upcoming election. Russia was also linked last week to spreading misinformation about the security of mail-in voting online, reflecting the lies President Trump has spread about voting by mail this summer.
Election security isn’t the only arena in which the Trump administration is accused of altering intelligence. According to Murphy’s complaint, Wolf and Cuccinelli buried intelligence that right-wing and white supremacist groups presented a more violent threat to the United States than antifa, Black Lives Matter, and other social justice movements.
Murphy, who was formerly in charge of intelligence and analysis at the DHS, prepared an intelligence report for Wolf and Cuccinelli on the threat posed by white supreamcists earlier this year. Both Wolf and Cuccinelli allegedly demanded that Murphy alter that report to reflect the President’s attacks on antifa and left-wing groups, and that he tone down intelligence on white supremacist groups. Murphy refused, and the report was never released.
According to The Washington Post, Murphy told Wolf “that it was improper to hold a vetted intelligence product for reasons [of] political embarrassment.” Murphy saw the intelligence as critical to national security, and refused to comply. In his complaint, Murphy states that his concerns were about “abuse of authority, willfully withholding intelligence information from Congress, and the improper administration of an intelligence program.”
In July, Murphy was reassigned to management duties, per The Washington Post. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) wrote to Murphy and asked him to testify at a deposition on September 21.