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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 TrumpWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Poll: 30 percent of GOP voters believe Trump will 'likely' be reinstated this year Black Secret Service agent told Trump it was offensive to hold rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth: report MORE’s rhetoric.

Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay Lawmakers rally around cyber legislation following string of attacks MORE (R-Fla.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerOn The Money: Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle | White House rules out gas tax hike Democrats introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for government discrimination Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle 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 SchiffCyber concerns dominate Biden-Putin summit Senate on collision course over Trump DOJ subpoenas Lawmakers urge Biden to be tough on cybersecurity during summit with Putin 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.