A senior intelligence officer from the US Department of Homeland Security, Brian Murphy, has claimed he was pressured by the agency’s top officials to downplay the threat of Russian interference in the election, citing that it made the Republican President Trump look bad.
In a whistleblower complaint, Murphy said that he was demoted for refusing to alter reports on Kremlin’s interference and other issues, including white supremacy in the US. He further claims that the directives were illegal.
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However, the White House Department of Homeland Security has denied the allegations. The democratic-led House Intelligence Committee released the complaint and has also asked Murphy to testify to congress later this month.
On Tuesday, the whistleblower complaint filed sets out several accusations against Kirsten Nielsen, the former Secretary of Homeland Security, current acting secretary Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli, his deputy.
Between March 2020 and August 2020, Brian Murphy said there was a continuous abuse of authority, improper administration of an intelligence program related to Russian efforts to influence to undermine American interests, and attempted censorship of intelligence analysis.
He further claimed that in mid-May this year he was instructed by secretary Wolf to “cease providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference… and instead start reporting on interference activities by China and Iran”.
The complaint in the House intelligence committee suggests that these instructions came directly from Robert O’Brien, the White House National Security Adviser. However, Murphy said that he categorically refused to comply, saying that it would put the US in substantial danger. But later in July, he was told to hold the intelligence report because it would make the president look bad.
The complaint says that Murphy was demoted to assistant to Deputy Secretary from acting Secretary and was also removed from future meetings. Meanwhile, the US intelligence agencies concluded that in the 2016 election, Moscow interfered in the elections, but Trump categorically denied it and even questioned intelligence agencies’ findings.
In response, Sarah Matthews, the spokesperson of the White House, said “Ambassador O’Brien has never sought to dictate the Intelligence Community’s focus on threats to the integrity of our elections or any other topic.”
Meanwhile, Alexei Woltornist, the spokesperson of the Department of Homeland Security, denied the allegation. However, the Democratic Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, vowed to end the politicization of intelligence agencies by getting to the bottom of the issue.
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