US official claims pressure to downplay intelligence reports – BBC News

An intelligence analyst at the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has said he was put under pressure to downplay the threat of Russian interference in the 3 November election as it “made the president look bad”.

In a whistleblower complaint, Brian Murphy said he had been demoted for refusing to alter reports on this and other issues such as white supremacy.

The directives were illegal, he said.

The White House and DHS have both denied the allegations.

US intelligence agencies concluded that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election but President Donald Trump has rejected allegations that his election victory was influenced by Russia, at times questioning findings from his own agencies.

An inquiry led by former FBI director of the FBI Robert Mueller found no evidence of a criminal conspiracy between Mr Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign team and Moscow.

Mr Murphy’s 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”.

He says he was instructed by Mr Wolf in mid-May 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.

Mr Murphy refused to comply “as doing so would put the country in substantial and specific danger” but, in July, he was told the intelligence report should be “held” because it “made the president look bad”.

The complaint says Mr Murphy was then removed from future meetings and effectively demoted.

He is seeking to be reinstated as principal deputy undersecretary in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis.

…(read more).

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