The New York Times reported Wednesday that a “whistleblower” at the Department of Homeland Security had alleged that officials “directed agency analysts to downplay the threat of violent white supremacy and of Russian election interference.”
The Times report noted the role of House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) in releasing the complaint. Indeed, the “whistleblower” in this case is represented by attorney Mark Zaid, the same lawyer who represented the so-called “whistleblower” in the impeachment. Zaid also notoriously tweeted in favor of a “coup” against President Donald Trump.
In this case, the “whistleblower” has been identified — as Brian Murphy, a former intelligence official at the department — but the complaint was filed with Schiff’s Intelligence committee rather than the House Committee on Homeland Security.
The complaint alleges that Murphy faced retaliation by the department for a variety of disputes. The first involves testimony going back to 2018 about alleged terrorist threats entering the U.S. through the southern border. Murphy says that former Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen perjured herself before Congress by exaggerating the terrorist influx.
Another dispute involves an argument with Acting Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Ken Cuccinelli over the assessment of conditions in the “Northern Triangle” countries of Central America from which migrant caravans were arriving — though the complaint does not state clearly what the argument is about. The complaint does, however, criticize Cuccinelli for his concerns about “deep state intelligence analysts,” which Murphy says meant targeting officials for political reasons.
The third dispute involves intelligence about Russian efforts to interfere in U.S. elections. The complaint names Kash Patel, then the Acting Deputy Director for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Patel has long been targeted by Democrats, ever since he helped Reo. Devin Nunes (R-CA) unravel the outgoing Obama administration’s effort to “unmask” American citizens whose names appeared in foreign intelligence surveillance reports, including Gen. Michael Flynn (Ret.).
The key paragraph:
In mid-May 2020, Mr. [Chad] Wolf instructed Mr.Murphy to cease providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference in the United States, and instead start reporting on interference activities by China and Iran. Mr. Wolf stated that these instructions specifically originated from White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien. Mr. Murphy informed Mr. Wolf he would not comply with these instructions, as doing so would put the country in substantial and specific danger.
Wolf is the current Acting Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security.
Murphy wanted to “disseminate” the information he had about Russian interference. Wolf told him not to, allegedly because it “made the President look bad.” The draft intelligence assessment — which has not been finalized — was later leaked. The complaint does not say who the leaker was, only that it was released to the media by “unknown individuals.” Murphy says that the draft document exaggerates the role of Iran and China and downplays the role of Russia in election interference.
The fourth dispute in the complaint involves a request that Murphy include an assessment of the threat posed by violent left-wing groups, along with the assessment of the threat of white supremacist groups. The complaint alleges that Cuccinelli wanted the white supremacist threat reported “in a manner that made the threat appear less severe.” Murphy worries that “the final version … will more closely resemble a policy document with references to ANTIFA and ‘anarchist’ groups.”
Fifth, and finally, Murphy claims that administration officials wanted to use intelligence assets improperly to gather information about Antifa and anarchists — the groups currently hijacking the Black Lives Matter movement to ravage American cities. Murphy claims he was directed to change intelligence assessments to match Trump’s rhetoric.
At one point in the complaint, Murphy appears on the defensive, eager to deny media reports that the department tracked journalists, saying that while intelligence officials monitored public information, they did not access private information and “never collected intelligence information on strictly peaceful protesters,” to the best of his knowledge (original emphasis). Those allegations led to Murphy being reassigned — a “demotion” that Murphy alleges was a form of political retaliation.
The complaint reads like an exaggerated rehash of internal disputes and debates. But it is very curious that the filing was made by the same people behind the impeachment inquiry, that it targets Kash Patel, and that it is written in a way that downplays the Antifa and anarchist violence that is being reported daily by the media — including local journalists.
In other words, it looks like an election-season stunt by Schiff, one that is calculated to downplay the daily reality of left-wing violence on the streets of America, and resurrect the defunct “Russia collusion” conspiracy theory once again.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.