Senior US intelligence official says White House ordered him to stop reporting on Russian election interference and highlight Chinese and Iran meddling instead, according to a whistleblower complaint.
An official at the Department of Homeland Security has said in a whistleblower complaint that he was pressured by agency leaders to highlight Chinese and Iran meddling and suppress details in his intelligence reports that President Donald Trump might find objectionable, including intelligence on Russian interference in the election and the threat posed by white supremacists.
Brian Murphy, a top official in the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Intelligence and Analysis, said on Wednesday he was ordered in May by acting DHS chief Chad Wolf stop providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference.
Murphy said in a whistle-blower complaint filed with the agency's inspector general that he was demoted for refusing to alter his intelligence reports in an “illegal and improper" manner.
He said in his complaint that Wolf told him the order came from President Donald Trump's national security advisor, Robert O'Brien.
The complaint was released by the Democratic-led House Intelligence Committee, which has asked Murphy to testify on September 21.
The former FBI agent and Marine Corps veteran had served as a principal deputy undersecretary in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis.
In August, he was demoted to assistant to the deputy undersecretary for DHS Management after resisting two years of pressure to distort intelligence reports for political reasons.
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.
"Mr. Murphy is, put simply, a dedicated public servant who has had a laudable career prior to the recent events that have led to the submission of this package to the OIG," his complaint stated.
"Prior to his current circumstances, he had never had so much as a negative fitness report in his professional career with the US Government."
Avoiding offending Trump
In his complaint, he alleged that former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, current acting secretary Wolf, and his deputy, Ken Cuccinelli, repeatedly pressed him to change intelligence assessments in ways that would support administration policies or avoid offending the president.
In one example, he said Nielsen and her deputies pressed him to exaggerate the number of migrants with links to terrorism who have been detained at the Southwest border.
Murphy said she falsely used a higher figure in testimony to Congress.
The complaint said Wolf, who has been nominated to be secretary by Trump, directed Murphy to cease providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference to the US because it "made the President look bad."
Murphy said he declined because it would be a violation of his duties not to do it.
He said Cuccinelli directed him to modify a section of a report on white supremacy to make the threat appear less severe, and to include information on left-wing groups to echo administration talking points around civil unrest following the protests over the killing of George Floyd.
Murphy asked to testify
A copy of the complaint was released by Republican Adam Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee. Schiff said he has asked Murphy to testify to Congress.
The complaint "outlines grave and disturbing allegations that senior White House and Department of Homeland Security officials improperly sought to politicise, manipulate, and censor intelligence in order to benefit President Trump politically," said committee chairman Schiff.
"This puts our nation and its security at grave risk."