House Intel Committee Chairman Schiff announces subpoenas in Homeland Security whistleblower probe

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff announced subpoenas Tuesday for documents and testimony from the Department of Homeland Security as part of the committee’s whistleblower investigation.

Brian Murphy alleged that officials pressured him to downplay information on Russian influence and the threat represented by White supremacists. The complaint also alleges that Murphy was retaliated against and demoted.

Schiff accused the DHS and Joseph B. Maher, the head of its Office of Intelligence and Analysis, of “effectively blocking the whistleblower from testifying” and failing to provide documents.

DHS has denied the allegations in both the complaint and from Schiff.

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“The whistleblower complaint from Mr. Murphy is patently false, it’s a fabrication, completely,” acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf said at a Senate confirmation hearing last week.

He said Murphy was reassigned because of allegations he abused his authority by personally directing the collection of information on U.S. journalists.

In this March 3, photo House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Schiff said Tuesday, Sept. 29, that he will subpoena the Department of Homeland Security after a department whistleblower wasn’t allowed access to documents and clearance he needs to testify. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

In this March 3, photo House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Schiff said Tuesday, Sept. 29, that he will subpoena the Department of Homeland Security after a department whistleblower wasn’t allowed access to documents and clearance he needs to testify. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

In a letter to Maher, Schiff wrote that Murphy’s lawyers had not been granted temporary security clearances by the DHS that would allow them to work on his deposition in the case, which the committee said it has repeatedly been forced to delay.

“The Committee will no longer tolerate the obstruction and attempts to run out the clock by the Department,” Schiff said in a statement.

The subpoenas aim to force the DHS to hand over records related to an ongoing whistleblower probe and to compel Maher to testify under oath.

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The DHS denied that it was “stonewalling” the committee and said in a statement that the subpoenas amounted to “obvious political theater.”

DHS said it produced “nearly 3,000 pages of documents” in addition to other materials for the House committee.

The subpoenas are seeking an Oct. 6 deadline for DHS to hand over the documents and testimony from Maher on Oct. 2.

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“The Committee has a responsibility to independently investigate and substantiate Mr. Murphy’s serious allegations, and you and your office have a legal obligation to comply,” Schiff wrote to Maher. “The allegations, as the Committee has underscored repeatedly, fall squarely within the Committee’s legislative jurisdiction and strike at the heart of the Committee’s constitutional oversight responsibility.”

Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.

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House Intelligence panel to subpoena DHS over whistleblower

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said Tuesday he will subpoena the Department of Homeland Security after a department whistleblower wasn’t allowed access to documents and clearance he needs to testify.

Brian Murphy said in a whistleblower complaint earlier this month that he was pressured by more senior officials to suppress facts in intelligence reports about Russian election interference and other matters. Schiff said he will issue two subpoenas to the department for documents and testimony after “unnecessary delay and obstruction” over materials that would allow Murphy to testify to the panel behind closed doors.

Murphy has agreed to tell his story to Congress, but his lawyer has said he cannot appear until he resolves the issues with the department over access to information.

Schiff, D-Calif., said the committee would compel the document production by Oct. 6. The second subpoena would demand that DHS official Joseph Maher, Murphy’s temporary replacement in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, testify in an open hearing Friday to explain why the department is delaying security clearances to Murphy’s attorneys and failing to produce documents to the committee, as well as to answer questions about Murphy’s complaint.

Schiff said in a statement that the panel “will no longer tolerate the obstruction and attempts to run out the clock by the department.”

Murphy said in the complaint that he was pressured by senior officials to suppress facts in intelligence reports that President Donald Trump might find objectionable, including information about Russian interference in the election and the rising threat posed by white supremacists. The department has denied his allegations.

A former FBI agent and Marine Corps veteran, Murphy also alleged that senior DHS officials pressed him to alter reports so they would reflect administration policy goals. He said he was demoted from his post as principal deputy under secretary in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis for refusing to go along with the changes and for filing confidential internal complaints about the conduct. He remains with the department in a different capacity.

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Military Police Considered Using Heat Ray on White House Protesters, Whistle-Blower Says

Top administration officials have defended the response to the protests, arguing that law enforcement officers in the square in the days leading up to the clash had been met with violence from bad actors. Testifying before Congress in July, Gregory T. Monahan, the Park Police’s acting chief, said that his officers acted with “tremendous restraint.”

Top Republican lawmakers, as well as Attorney General William P. Barr, have previously sought to discredit Major DeMarco, noting that he ran as a Democratic House candidate in 2018.

Major DeMarco, who also testified before the House Committee on Natural Resources as part of the panel’s investigation into the clash, offered a starkly different picture, telling lawmakers that the police used “excessive” force on protesters.

The heat ray that officials had sought was developed with the intent of repelling individuals without injury. But military news releases describe the technology as causing an “unbearable heating sensation,” and a system deployed to Afghanistan with the Air Force in 2010 ultimately was never used and was withdrawn, in part, some speculated, because of public opposition.

In a meeting days before the 2018 midterm elections, Customs and Border Protection officials suggested using the device on migrants at the southwestern border, but the idea shocked attendees, and Kirstjen Nielsen, then the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, angrily dismissed the idea outright.

Major DeMarco, in his written testimony, also told lawmakers that military officials had sought out powerful sound cannons known as Long Range Acoustic Devices, which can be used to loudly issue commands to crowds but can also serve as a deterrent. A federal judge in New York ruled in 2017 that the sound the cannons emit could be considered a form of force, after the police used such a device to emit a series of piercing beeps directed at protesters who later said they had developed ringing in their ears and dizziness because of the noise.

Zolan Kanno-Youngs and John Ismay contributed reporting.

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Federal officials considered using ‘heat ray’ on protesters outside White House, military whistleblower says

A military whistleblower says federal officials sought some unusual crowd control devices — including one that’s been called a “heat ray” — to deal with protesters outside the White House on the June day that law enforcement forcibly cleared Lafayette Square.

In written responses to questions from a House committee, National Guard Maj. Adam DeMarco said the Defense Department’s lead military police officer for the National Capital Region sent an email asking if the D.C. National Guard possessed a long-range acoustic device — used to transmit loud noises — or an “Active Denial System,” the so-called heat ray.

DeMarco said he responded that the Guard was not in possession of either device. National Public Radio and The Washington Post first reported DeMarco’s testimony.

Use of either the acoustic device or the Active Denial System would have been a significant escalation of crowd control for the Guard members, particularly since the Defense officials ordered that the Guard troops not be armed when they went into D.C.

Law enforcement personnel were armed. And although active-duty military troops were sent to the region, they remained at bases outside the District in case they were needed but never actually entered the District.

The Active Denial System was developed by the military nearly two decades ago, and was unveiled to the public around 2007. It’s not clear that it’s ever actually been used in combat, although there are reports it has deployed.

The system, which emits a directed beam of energy that causes a burning heat sensation, was considered a non-lethal way to control crowds, particularly when it may be difficult to tell the enemy from innocent civilians in war zones. Use of the device appeared to stall amid questions about whether it actually caused more serious injuries or burns than initially thought.

The Long Range Acoustic Device, also called a sound cannon, sends out loud messages or sounds and has been used by law enforcement to disperse crowds. The U.S. military has, in recent years, ordered the LRAD for the Navy’s Military Sealift Command to be used by ships to hail or warn other vessels.

DeMarco testified in late July before the House Natural Resources Committee, which is investigating the use of force against crowds in Lafayette Square that night. His remarks on the crowd control devices came in response to follow-up questions from the committee. DeMarco’s lawyer sent his answers to the committee on Aug. 28; NPR posted the document online Wednesday.

The Trump administration has said that vicious attacks by protesters led federal forces to turn on what appeared to be a largely peaceful crowd June 1 in the square in front of the White House. Law enforcement and security officers that night clubbed and punched protesters and unleashed mounted officers and chemical agents against them in one of the most controversial confrontations at the height of this year’s nationwide protests over the killing of Black people at the hands of police.

The forceful clearing of Lafayette Square, long one of the

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House Intel Expands DHS Probe After Whistleblower Allegations About Disinfo, ‘Antifa’

The House Intelligence Committee is expanding an existing investigation into the Department of Homeland Security to address a whistleblower’s allegations that top officials politicized intelligence to aid President Donald Trump.

The whistleblower complaint, written by the department’s former top intelligence official, alleges that Trump administration higher-ups pressured him and others to distort intelligence products on Russia, white supremacists and “antifa” in order to reflect Trump’s priorities. The White House and DHS have denied the allegations made in the complaint.

“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 [the Office of Intelligence and Analysis’] mission and activities,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) wrote in a letter to Joseph B. Maher, the DHS official now performing the former job of the demoted whistleblower.

The whistleblower, Brian Murphy, alleges he was demoted from his position as acting undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis for refusing to go along with department higher ups — including Acting Secretary Chad Wolf and his top deputy, Ken Cuccinelli — who Murphy said sought to manipulate intelligence analyses.

Notably, the committee was already investigating the Office of Intelligence and Analysis. That investigation began after news broke last month that, among other things, the office had collected information on journalists who were reporting on the federal presence in Portland.

Murphy was overseeing the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at the time, and his whistleblower complaint addresses that scandal, calling press reporting on it “significantly flawed.” The complaint asserts that “DHS I&A never knowingly or deliberately collected information on journalists, at least as far as Mr. Murphy is aware or ever authorized.”

Murphy’s complaint alleges that, though Wolf “knew” there was no merit to the press about the scandal, “the removal and reassignment of Mr. Murphy would be politically good for Mr. Wolf, who wanted to be officially nominated as the DHS Secretary.”

Schiff’s letter Friday significantly expands the scope of the committee’s investigatory work.

For one thing, Murphy’s allegations go back to 2018, when he alleges that then-DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and others misled Congress about the threat of known and suspected terrorists crossing the southern border. Murphy also alleged that Cuccinelli wanted to retaliate against DHS staff whose work on Central America he considered to be the product of “deep state intelligence analysts.”

What grabbed headlines, though, was Murphy’s claim that Wolf and Cuccinelli pressured him to alter an intelligence document to downplay the threat of white supremacist violence and emphasis “antifa.”

Separately, Murphy alleged, he was excluded from the drafting process of an intelligence notification on Russian disinformation efforts after Wolf told him the notification should be “held” because it “made the President look bad.”

In his letter to Maher, Schiff listed several DHS officials with whom the committee would request transcribed interviews. And he said he appreciated the department’s pledge to “cooperate with the Committee’s expanded

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U.S. Senate committee joins House panel in probing Homeland whistleblower complaint

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate intelligence committee is investigating a whistleblower complaint filed by a former top U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official alleging he was pressed to skew official intelligence reports for political purposes, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf arrives with U.S. President Donald Trump to participate in an Iowa disaster recovery briefing, at the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, U.S., August 18, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

Senators Marco Rubio and Mark Warner, the committee’s Republican acting chair and Democrat vice chair, wrote to DHS deputy general counsel Joseph Maher on Thursday, saying they had received the complaint and asking for related documents.

Brian Murphy, who until recently was acting chief of DHS’ intelligence and analysis (I&A) office, alleged in the complaint that acting DHS chief Chad Wolf asked him to stop providing assessments on Russian election interference and to play down U.S. white supremacist activity.

“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’”, the senators’ letter says.

A spokesman for Rubio said Murphy’s complaint “will be treated as seriously as any other complaint.”

DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment but said on Wednesday, “We flatly deny that there is any truth to the merits of Mr. Murphy’s claim.”.

The Rubio-Warner letter, first reported by Reuters, indicates the Republican-led Senate committee is joining the Democrat-led House Intelligence Committee in digging into allegations in the complaint that Murphy, who served as acting DHS intelligence for several months this year, filed earlier this week with the DHS Inspector General.

Mark Zaid, a lawyer for Murphy, said “We have specifically requested DHS’s position on whether it will block Mr. Murphy’s classified testimony before relevant congressional committees, including when faced with a subpoena.”

Murphy’s complaint alleges that Wolf told him to stop providing assessments of the threat of Russian interference in the Nov. 3 election and to play down U.S. white supremacist activity. Murphy says Wolf told him in mid-May to report instead on political interference threats posed by China and Iran, and to highlight the involvement of left-wing groups in domestic disorder.

The House Intelligence Committee requested that Murphy appear for a deposition on Sept. 21. House committee chairman Adam Schiff said on Friday he met with the DHS’ Maher earlier this week to discuss Murphy’s complaint.

The White House has denied suggestions by Murphy that Robert O’Brien, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, instructed Wolf to play up intelligence supporting Trump’s political themes.

Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Editing by Tom Brown

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