Official claims pressure to alter Homeland Security intel

FILE - In this June 28, 2019, file photo the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) seal is seen during a news conference in Washington. An official at the Department of Homeland Security says he was pressured by agency leaders to 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. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
FILE - In this June 28, 2019, file photo the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) seal is seen during a news conference in Washington. An official at the Department of Homeland Security says he was pressured by agency leaders to 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. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

WASHINGTON – A Department of Homeland Security official said in a whistleblower complaint that he was pressured by more senior officials to suppress facts in intelligence reports that President Donald Trump might find objectionable, including information about Russian interference in the election and the rising threat posed by white supremacists.

The official, Brian Murphy, alleged that senior DHS officials also pressed him to alter reports so they would reflect administration policy goals and that he was demoted for refusing to go along with the changes and for filing confidential internal complaints about the conduct.

Murphy, a former FBI agent and Marine Corps veteran, was demoted in August from his post as principal deputy under secretary in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis. He is seeking to be reinstated in a complaint filed with the DHS Office of Inspector General.

Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, on Wednesday released the complaint, which he said contained “grave and disturbing” allegations. He said Murphy has been asked to give a deposition to Congress as part of an investigation into intelligence collection by DHS related to its response to protests in Portland, Oregon, and elsewhere.

“We will get to the bottom of this, expose any and all misconduct or corruption to the American people, and put a stop to the politicization of intelligence," the California Democrat said.

A Homeland Security spokesman, Alexei Woltornist, said the department generally does not comment on referrals to the inspector general but denied Murphy’s allegations. “DHS looks forward to the results of any resulting investigation and we expect it will conclude that no retaliatory action was taken against Mr. Murphy,” he said.

The complaint came the same day that acting Secretary Chad Wolf, who has been nominated by Trump to lead the agency, gave a “state of the Homeland” speech in which he said DHS is working to thwart election interference from any foreign power and all threats regardless of ideology.

“DHS stands in absolute opposition to any form of violent extremism whether by white supremacist extremists or anarchist extremists,” Wolf said. “We will continue our daily efforts to combat all forms of domestic terror.”