US whistleblower says Homeland Security downplayed Russia interference threat

Washington DC, Sep 9 (efe-epa).- A former senior US Department of Homeland Security official said he was pressured to manipulate intelligence information on alleged Russian interference in the upcoming election because it “made the president look bad.”

The whistleblower complaint was filed by former principal deputy under secretary in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A), Brian Murphy, and made public Wednesday by the intelligence committee of the House of Representatives.

The complaint lays out a string of issues, such as orders to alter intelligence reports and Murphy’s refusal to do so, before his eventual demotion.

Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Democrat Adam Schiff said in a statement that the complaint “outlines grave and disturbing allegations that senior White House and Department of Homeland Security officials improperly sought to politicize, manipulate, and censor intelligence in order to benefit President Trump politically.”

Among issues in the complaint, Murphy claimed that, in mid-May, the acting DHS secretary, Chad Wolf, ordered him to “cease providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference in the United States, and instead start reporting on interference activities by China and Iran.”

According to Murphy, Wolf said these orders came from the White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien. Murphy told Wolf that he would not comply as doing so would “put the country in substantial and specific danger.”

In July, Wolf told Murphy an intelligence notification regarding Russian disinformation efforts be “held” because “it made the president look bad,” the complaint said. It added that when Murphy objected, Wolf took steps to exclude him from future meetings on the subject and that the completed draft, written without Murphy’s involvement, was misleading and inconsistent with intelligence data.

Additionally, the complaint said that in May, Murphy was ordered to amend a report that highlighted the threat from white supremacists and was asked to downplay its importance, as well as include information on the prominence of “violent left-wing groups.” The order was allegedly issued by deputy DHS secretary, Ken Cuccinelli.

A new draft was completed in August without Murphy’s input, and the complaint said it is understood to be more in line with policy and with references to anti-fascist movement Antifa, which Trump has accused of being behind the racial justice demonstrations that have rocked the country’s main cities, rather than the original intelligence document.

The complaint said Murphy was also instructed in May and July to modify intelligence assessments about Antifa and anarchist groups to ensure they were in line with public comments made by Trump, which Murphy refused.

In August, Murphy was “reassigned” from acting secretary and principal deputy under secretary at DHS I&A to assistant to the deputy under secretary in the Management Division, effectively a demotion.

The complaint requests he be reinstated, his demotion expunged from his file, that those who retaliated or threatened to retaliate be reprimanded, and payment of lawyer fees.

The White House and the DHS have rejected Murphy’s allegations.

Throughout his presidency, Trump has refused to believe that Moscow interfered in the 2016 election, something that the US intelligence services maintain and that Moscow denies.

Specifically, in 2016 and 2017, US intelligence agencies said that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the presidential election because of a “clear preference” for Trump, who was elected over the Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Ahead of the upcoming November elections, the US intelligence services have warned that China wants to interfere so that Trump is defeated, while Russia is trying to undermine Democratic candidate, Joe Biden. EFE-EPA


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