A senior Department of Homeland Security official, who was in charge of intelligence and analysis with the agency, has filed a whistleblower complaint. The complaint comes after he was reportedly told to stop providing information on the possibility of Russian interference in the upcoming elections, partly because it “made the President look bad,” the Washington Post reports.
In the complaint, Brian Murphy, the official, says that he was demanded to stop reporting about the Russian threat on two separate occasions, a command he felt would put national security at risk.
On July 8, Murphy stated that current Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf informed him that an “intelligence notification” regarding Russian efforts to meddle in the 2020 election should be “held” because it was not a good look on Donald Trump, who had previously referred to the interference as a “hoax.”
The senior official took exception to Wolf’s request, “stating that it was improper to hold a vetted intelligence product for reasons [of] political embarrassment,” according to a copy of his whistleblower complaint obtained by the outlet.
He also said that two months prior, he was told by Wolf to stop creating intelligence assessments on Russia and to transition the focus on election interference from China and Iran. He said that Wolf told him “that these instructions specifically originated from White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.”
Following his filing, Murphy’s lawyer, Mark Zaid, released a statement regarding his client’s actions.
“Mr. Murphy followed proper, lawful whistleblower rules in reporting serious allegations of misconduct against DHS leadership, particularly involving political distortion of intelligence analysis and retaliation,” he said. “We have alerted both the Executive and Legislative Branches of these allegations, and we will appropriately cooperate with oversight investigations, especially in a classified setting.”
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), said in a statement that Murphy’s 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. This puts our nation and its security at grave risk.”
Murphy has been asked by the committee to testify later this month.
Following reports posted by the outlet that his office had gathered “intelligence reports” about tweets from journalists that were covering protests in Portland, Oregon, Murphy was removed from his position at DHS and given a management role.