Senior DHS official alleges in whistleblower complaint that he was told to stop providing intelligence analysis on threat of Russian interference
Category: News & PoliticsVia: gsquared • 3 weeks ago • 49 comments
A senior Department of Homeland Security official alleges that he was told to stop providing intelligence analysis on the threat of Russian interference in the 2020 election, in part because it “made the President look bad,” an instruction he believed would jeopardize national security.
Murphy objected to Wolf’s instruction, “stating that it was improper to hold a vetted intelligence product for reasons [of] political embarrassment,” according to a copy of his whistleblower complaint that was obtained by The Washington Post.
Murphy also alleges that two months earlier, Wolf told him to stop producing intelligence assessments on Russia and shift the focus on election interference to China and Iran. He said Wolf told him “that these instructions specifically originated from White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.”
Murphy’s allegations track with concerns by other officials, as well as Democratic lawmakers and national security experts, that the Trump administration has tried to downplay the threat from Russia.
Murphy appeared to share those concerns, stating that the analysis in the intelligence notification, which he said was eventually leaked to the press, “attempts to place the actions of Russia on par with those of Iran and China in a manner that is misleading and inconsistent with the actual intelligence data.”
DHS plays a key role in guarding against election interference, mainly by working with state and local governments to ensure that electronic voting systems are protected from hackers and outside manipulation. As part of its mission, the department has also sent unclassified bulletins to state and local authorities describing foreign interference.
Murphy stated that after being told to stand down on Russia in May and shift his focus, he made two classified disclosures on the matter in late May to Ken Cucinelli, the second-in-command at DHS. The second occurred after a deputies-level meeting of the National Security Council on election security.
Murphy did not provide further details on what he told Cucinelli, but described his concerns as generally having to do with “abuse of authority, willfully withholding intelligence information from Congress, and the improper administration of an intelligence program.”
Murphy also made a series of allegations in the whistleblower complaint that senior Trump administration officials had pressured him to provide misleading information about suspected terrorists crossing the border with Mexico, as part of an effort to bolster the case for building a border wall.
DHS officials came under pressure from the White House and then-spokesperson Sarah Sanders to provide information on “known suspected terrorists” to support construction of the border wall during the government shutdown in January 2019, a former DHS official confirmed.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, was not party to the communications outlined in Murphy’s complaint, but said they were consistent with the pressure coming from the White House at the time.
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