Whistleblower says W.House told him to stop reporting Russian election interference


Washington (AFP)

A senior US intelligence official said the White House ordered him to stop reporting on Russian election interference and highlight Chinese and Iran meddling instead, according to a whistleblower complaint revealed Wednesday.

Brian Murphy, a top official in the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Intelligence and Analysis, said he was ordered in May by acting DHS chief Chad Wolf stop providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference.

He said in his complaint that Wolf told him the order came from President Donald Trump's national security advisor, Robert O'Brien.

Murphy says he was punitively demoted on August 1 after resisting two years of pressure to distort intelligence reports for political reasons.

This, he said, included exaggerating the threat of terrorists entering the country from Mexico, playing down the threat of white nationalism and holding back reports on Russian interference.

The demotion came after a series of briefings and reports Murphy made, including after Wolf's May warning, on Russian election meddling and social media activities.

He was called to meet Wolf on July 8. At the time, Murphy alleges, "Mr. Wolf stated to Mr. Murphy the intelligence notification should be 'held' because it 'made the president look bad.'"

Wolf then cut Murphy out of subsequent meetings on the subject, and a report on the issue then played down Russian actions, seen as aiming to support Trump's reelection effort, and elevated China and Iran.

Likewise, Murphy charges, an official Homeland Threat Assessment (HTA) he and others drew up in March was opposed because of its focus on white supremacists along with the Russians.

He said he was told by another DHS official that it could not be distributed due to concerns "regarding how the HTA would reflect upon President Trump."

In May and June the acting deputy DHS secretary, Ken Cuccinelli, "stated that Mr. Murphy needed to specifically modify the section on White Supremacy in a manner that made the threat appear less severe, as well as include information on the prominence of violent 'left-wing' groups," according to the complaint.

Murphy's whistleblower complaint was filed with the DHS inspector general.

But it was released by the Democratic-led House Intelligence Committee, which has asked Murphy to testify on September 21.

The 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," said committee chairman Adam Schiff.

"This puts our nation and its security at grave risk."