Daily US Times: A senior intelligence official at the US Department of Homeland Security has claimed that he was pressured by the agency’s leadership to downplay the threat of Russian election interference as it “made the president look bad”.
Brian Murphy said in a whistleblower complaint that he was demoted for refusing to alter reports on this and other issues, including white supremacy.
He claims the directives were illegal.
Department of Homeland Security and the White House denied the claims.
Democrat-led House Intelligence Committee released the complaint and the committee has asked Mr Murphy to testify to Congress later in the month.
What are the intelligence involving Russia?
The whistleblower reprisal complaint was filed on Tuesday. It sets out a number of allegations against Kirstjen Nielsen, the former Homeland Security Secretary, current Acting Secretary Chad Wolf and his deputy Ken Cuccinelli.
Mr Murphy says in his report, between March 2018 and August 2020, there was a “repeated pattern of abuse of authority, attempted censorship of intelligence analysis and improper administration of an intelligence program related to Russian efforts to influence and undermine US interests”.
He was instructed by Mr Wolf in mid-May 2020 to “cease providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference… and instead start reporting on interference activities by China and Iran”. The complaint says these instructions came directly from White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.
The intelligence official refused to comply “as doing so would put the country in substantial and specific danger” but, in July, he was suggested the intelligence report should be “held” because it “made the president look bad”.
Mr Murphy was then removed from future meetings, the complaint says, and in July, was effectively demoted from acting secretary and principal deputy under secretary to assistant to the deputy under secretary in the management division. He is seeking to be reinstated.
US intelligence agencies concluded that Russia interfered in the last election, but President Donald Trump has rejected claims that his election victory was influenced by Russia, at times questioning findings from his own agencies.