The whistleblower claims that acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf instructed DHS officials earlier this year to “cease providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference” and, instead, focus their efforts on gathering information related to activities being carried out by China and Iran.
DHS did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment regarding allegations that Wolf and Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli ordered officials to change intelligence assessments for political reasons but have broadly denied either man took actions that constitute as an abuse of power, as stated in the complaint.
The complaint also alleges that Wolf and Cuccinelli, both Trump appointees, directed officials to change intelligence assessments to ensure they matched up with misleading public comments from Trump about Antifa and “anarchist” groups, according to a complaint filed with the DHS inspector general.
Murphy claims that his reassignment was retaliatory and motivated by political considerations — amounting to an abuse of authority by Wolf.
But if true, the actions detailed in the complaint mark yet another example of Trump officials attempting to adjust or minimize intelligence that does not align with the administration’s political priorities.
“The whistleblower retaliation complaint filed by former Acting Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis Brian Murphy 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. This puts our nation and its security at grave risk,” Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement following CNN’s reporting.
“Mr. Murphy’s allegations are serious — from senior officials suppressing intelligence reports on Russia’s election interference and making false statements to Congress about terrorism threats at our southern border, to modifying intelligence assessments to match the President’s rhetoric on Antifa and minimizing the threat posed by White supremacists. We have requested Mr. Murphy’s testimony before the Committee, pursuant to subpoena if necessary, alongside other already scheduled interviews with other DHS officials,” he said.
Whistleblower says Trump appointees ordered halt on Russia intel
The complaint also includes stark allegations related to intelligence on Russian interference in the US.
Murphy says that in May Wolf instructed him to “cease providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference in the US and instead start reporting on interference activities by China and Iran,” according to the documents obtained by CNN.
Wolf stated these instructions came from National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, according to the complaint. It also says Murphy told Wolf he would not comply with these instructions because doing so would “put the country in substantial and significant danger,” the documents say.
The complaint also says that in June the DHS chief of staff told Murphy to “cease any dissemination of an intelligence notification regarding Russian disinformation activities” until Murphy discussed the matter with Wolf directly.
DHS spokesman Alexei Woltornist said in a statement to CNN late Wednesday that “the Department generally does not comment on the specifics of OIG referrals, but we flatly deny that there is any truth to the merits of Mr. Murphy’s claim.”
“DHS looks forward to the results of any resulting investigation and we expect it will conclude that no retaliatory action was taken against Mr. Murphy,” he added.
National security adviser Robert O’Brien denied knowing Murphy when asked about the allegations included in the complaint, telling Fox News: “I don’t know who he is and it’s hearsay.”
These new allegations come as intelligence officials have said there is evidence that Russia is currently interfering in the election to hurt Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign.
But while the intelligence community has assessed that China and Iran prefer Trump to lose in November, officials have offered no indication, to date, that either country is acting on that preference in the same way as Russia, according to public statements issued by the…