Former Intelligence Official Says He Was Pressured to Alter Findings to Back Trump

Brian Murphy claims Trump administration blocked findings on Russian interference “because it made the president look bad.”

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf appears before the US Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on August 6, 2020.Toni Sandys/CNP via ZUMA Wire

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In a wide-ranging whistleblower complaint unveiled Wednesday, a former top-ranking Homeland Security official alleges that members of the Trump administration repeatedly pressured him to manipulate intelligence assessments to match the president’s false public assertions. Brian Murphy—who previously served as acting head of DHS’s intelligence unit—says in the complaint that Chad Wolf, the acting head of DHS, ordered him to withhold intelligence assessments detailing Russian efforts to spread disinformation aimed at influencing the 2020 election “because it made the president look bad.” Murphy says Wolf claimed that directive reflected instructions to him from White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien.

Murphy also claims that acting Deputy DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli and former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen pushed him to tailor intelligence reports to support Trump’s political messaging. That included pressure in 2018 to help Nielsen play up the danger of suspected terrorists entering the United States from Mexico. It also allegedly included pressure this year from Wolf and Cuccinelli to doctor a report to match Trump’s public comments about Antifa and left-leaning groups, while downplaying the dangers posed by white supremacist groups.

Murphy was ousted from his position in July amid allegations that his office improperly compiled information on journalists and protesters. His whistleblower complaint was released by the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday.

Read Murphy’s whistleblower complaint here:



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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

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In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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