Former Intelligence Official Says He Was Pressured to Alter Findings to Back Trump

Brian Murphy claims Trump administration blocked findings on Russian interference “because it made the president look bad.”

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf appears before the US Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on August 6, 2020.Toni Sandys/CNP via ZUMA Wire

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

In a wide-ranging whistleblower complaint unveiled Wednesday, a former top-ranking Homeland Security official alleges that members of the Trump administration repeatedly pressured him to manipulate intelligence assessments to match the president’s false public assertions. Brian Murphy—who previously served as acting head of DHS’s intelligence unit—says in the complaint that Chad Wolf, the acting head of DHS, ordered him to withhold intelligence assessments detailing Russian efforts to spread disinformation aimed at influencing the 2020 election “because it made the president look bad.” Murphy says Wolf claimed that directive reflected instructions to him from White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien.

Murphy also claims that acting Deputy DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli and former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen pushed him to tailor intelligence reports to support Trump’s political messaging. That included pressure in 2018 to help Nielsen play up the danger of suspected terrorists entering the United States from Mexico. It also allegedly included pressure this year from Wolf and Cuccinelli to doctor a report to match Trump’s public comments about Antifa and left-leaning groups, while downplaying the dangers posed by white supremacist groups.

Murphy was ousted from his position in July amid allegations that his office improperly compiled information on journalists and protesters. His whistleblower complaint was released by the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday.

Read Murphy’s whistleblower complaint here:



We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate