Homeland Security whistleblower: Team Trump distorted intelligence, downplayed Russian threats
Reporting on the threat of Russian interference to the election, emphasized the threat from China downplay the threat from white supremacists but highlight the threat of Antifa and other leftist groups. That is what a Department of Homeland Security officials says he was told to do in a whistleblower complaint. NPR National security correspondent Hannah Allam is here to talk about the latest claims of political pressure at the D. H s and the implications. Dana. Thanks for being here. Hi there, So I lied. I laid out the the broad strokes of this whistleblower complaint. But can you fill in the details for us? Sure. Until last month, Brian Murphy led the intelligence branch of th S, and he was reassigned after revelations that the office was compiling reports on protesters and journalists. But now, Murphy says the real reason he lost his job is for speaking up about what he portrays is White House attempts to manipulate intelligence to match President Trump's statements. And, as you said he makes claims about Russia an election meddling, but I'm focusing on parts of the complaint, where he describes specific attempts to influence intelligence on domestic terrorism threats. Murphy says his boss is the top th s officials told him in no uncertain terms on several occasions to play down the threat of white supremacists and to play up the thread of Antifa and other militant leftist and he says he was told to do this so that the DEA just intelligence assessments would match what Trump says publicly. And publicly the president frequently and erroneously, we should say it portrays Antifa as an equal or even greater threat than the exponentially deadlier. Extreme, right. This is something I've discussed with Seth Jones at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He's got a long background in counterterrorism work, and he and other analysts say the White House assertions of widespread violence from the left are baseless. Those comments or general not coming from the experts within the administration, who Are at the National Counterterrorism Center at the FBI Counterterrorism division. They're coming from politicians, so it's not a reflection of the data, The far left simply does not present the same threat. That the far right dozen capabilities in plots and attacks Orin fatalities, none of those Nevertheless, this is what Brian Murphy says he was pressured to do to elevate the threat of the far left. How does he describe this? This pressure campaign. Well in the complaint, he talks about being asked by the top leaders to soften language and report on white supremacy to make it quote less severe, And at the same time, he says, he was being asked to add more information. On the far left. He mentions Antifa anarchists, in particular, the White House's dismissed these allegations are false and defamatory that call Murphy a disgruntled employee. But he's not the first to raise these concerns. We've heard former senior D H s officials saying this that the far right wasn't taken seriously. We've heard it from researchers who work closely with the government on policy making. And I mean we hear it ourselves in the market the different ways. The president speaks about attacks where the perpetrator's a right wing ideologue versus, say, a leftist or a Muslim. What does take this one up A notch in terms of revelations is that this is an insider alleging that political appointees attempted to manipulate actual intelligence and this is not a press release. This was an assessment of domestic threats to the nation. So Murphy is asking the department's inspector general to investigate what he calls abuses of authority. So how how did all of that affect the white supremacist movement? Extremism analyst generally say the far right especially, you know, white nationalist supremacists had been emboldened under Trump. And so this is one more account, saying the administration looked the other way as violent actors got more organized, more violent, better funded. And now we're starting to see some of those groups show up to protest, intimidate and launch attacks that many fear will lead to an escalation before and after the November election. NPR national security correspondent Hannah Lamma. Thank you so much for your reporting. Hannah, we appreciate it.