Senate panel seeks documents in probe of DHS whistleblower complaint

Senate panel seeks documents in probe of DHS whistleblower complaint
© Greg Nash

The Senate Intelligence Committee is investigating a recent whistleblower complaint from a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official who alleges he was pressured to alter intelligence reports to align with President TrumpDonald John TrumpOmar fires back at Trump over rally remarks: 'This is my country' Pelosi: Trump hurrying to fill SCOTUS seat so he can repeal ObamaCare Trump mocks Biden appearance, mask use ahead of first debate MORE’s rhetoric.

Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Pentagon redirects pandemic funding to defense contractors | US planning for full Afghanistan withdrawal by May | Anti-Trump GOP group puts ads in military papers Democrats step up hardball tactics as Supreme Court fight heats up Press: Notorious RBG vs Notorious GOP MORE (R-Fla.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerIntelligence chief says Congress will get some in-person election security briefings Overnight Defense: Trump hosts Israel, UAE, Bahrain for historic signing l Air Force reveals it secretly built and flew new fighter jet l Coronavirus creates delay in Pentagon research for alternative to 'forever chemicals' House approves bill to secure internet-connected federal devices against cyber threats MORE (D-Va.), the acting chair and vice chair of the Intelligence panel, wrote to DHS deputy general counsel Joseph Maher on Thursday asking for documents relating to the whistleblower complaint, according to a letter first reported by Reuters.

The complaint, filed by career DHS official Brian Murphy, alleges that political appointees sought to modify or suppress vetted intelligence to match or support Trump’s public remarks on various issues. Among the most notable claims from Murphy, who until recently was acting chief of DHS’s intelligence and analysis (I&A) office, was that officials pressed him to stop producing intelligence reports centered on Russian interference efforts and instead focus on the threats posed by China and Iran. 

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“These allegations, if true, raise serious concerns about a potential disregard for the objectivity and impartiality of intelligence analysis and the role of the I&A in the Department,” the senators wrote to the DHS counsel.

“As the Committee investigates this matter, we respectfully request that you provide the Committee with all intelligence assessments produced by I&A related to Mr. Murphy’s complaint including but not limited to products related to migration and asylum, foreign interference in U.S. elections, and domestic threats related to white supremacism, antifa and ‘anarchist groups.’”

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The Hill previously previously reported that the Senate panel planned to examine Murphy’s complaint.

The Trump administration has pushed back against Murphy’s allegations, saying this week there is no “truth to the merits” of the complaint.

Still, Democrats have seized on Murphy’s claims, alleging they are further evidence that the intelligence community has been politicized under the Trump administration. 

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffChris Matthews ripped for complimenting Trump's 'true presidential behavior' on Ginsburg Trump casts doubt on Ginsburg statement, wonders if it was written by Schiff, Pelosi or Schumer Top Democrats call for DOJ watchdog to probe Barr over possible 2020 election influence MORE (D-Calif.) on Friday told Maher that his panel will move to expand an ongoing House probe beyond intelligence activities in Portland, Ore., to include claims of political interference and the politicization of intelligence raised Murphy’s complaint.

"The Committee is continuing to probe I&A’s activities in Portland and in support of the Department’s protests nationwide. ... However, based on information that has recently come to light, the Committee’s investigation must now encompass and review a wider range of reported abuses, deficiencies, and problems, including allegations of improper politicization of intelligence and political interference in I&A’s mission and activities," Schiff said.

Murphy said he was reassigned earlier this year to the role of assistant to the deputy under secretary for DHS's management division, a move he has described as a retaliatory demotion. The agency has denied his allegations.