US official claims pressure to downplay intelligence reports

US official claims pressure to downplay intelligence reports

  • A senior intelligence official at the US Department of Homeland Security has said he was pressured by the agency’s leadership to downplay the threat of Russian election interference as it “made the president look bad”

In a whistleblower complaint, Brian Murphy said he was demoted for refusing to alter reports on this and other issues, including white supremacy.

The directives were illegal, he claims.

The White House and Department of Homeland Security denied the claims.

The complaint was released by the Democrat-led House Intelligence Committee, which has asked Mr Murphy to testify to Congress later in the month.

What are the allegations involving Russia?

The whistleblower reprisal complaint, filed on Tuesday, sets out a number of allegations against former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, current Acting Secretary Chad Wolf and his deputy Ken Cuccinelli.

Mr Murphy says that, between March 2018 and August 2020, there was a “repeated pattern of abuse of authority, attempted censorship of intelligence analysis and improper administration of an intelligence program related to Russian efforts to influence and undermine US interests”.

In mid-May 2020, he was instructed by Mr Wolf to “cease providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference… and instead start reporting on interference activities by China and Iran”. These instructions came directly from White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, the complaint says.