Acting DHS Head Chad Wolf Buried Memo On Russian Election Interference To Help Trump. Yeah, Don't Faint.

2020 presidential election
Acting DHS Head Chad Wolf Buried Memo On Russian Election Interference To Help Trump. Yeah, Don't Faint.

Hold on to your hats, kids! Turns out Trump's Department of Homeland Security was a hot mess of corruption, and not just because they were beating protesters and disappearing people into the back of vans for the crime of being on the street dressed in black.

The latest revelation came in an Inspector General's Report that focuses on the politicization of one particular memo about Russian election interference to damage then-candidate Joe Biden. The episode was alluded to in a whistleblowers report by Brian Murphy, the former head of the Homeland Security Department’s intelligence branch, published by the New York Times in September 2020. Murphy described a shocking pattern of rot at the top of DHS, under both Kirstjen "Baby Cager" Nielsen and her successor Chad Wolf, AKA "Acting Chad," who was never confirmed and whose appointment was subsequently declared illegal.

During the campaign, the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) observed the objective reality that Russian actors were seeding social media with lies about Joe Biden's health. Much the same way they spent 2016 pretending that Hillary Clinton was at death's door, while a guy who can't walk down a flight of stairs was treated like a perfect specimen of virility and acumen. Russia, if you're listening ...

There is a process for I&A to produce intelligence memos, and it does not involve editing by the acting head of DHS. Nevertheless, when Murphy presented a memo for distribution to intelligence agencies saying that Russia was interfering to harm the Democratic nominee, Acting Chad told him to fix it so it wouldn't upset Poppy Trump by acknowledging the reality that he was once again the beneficiary of Russian electoral interference.

In June, Murphy was told to find examples of foreign election interference to help Joe Biden.

In an internal I&A email, the I&A official who authored the product described why providing examples of influence efforts targeting candidates from both major political parties might be difficult, because: [REDACTED]

In the document it looks like this:

Let's go out on a limb here and guess that it might be difficult to find counterexamples of foreign election interference to hurt Trump because America's adversaries were only delighted to watch the United States tear itself apart for four years under the leadership of a lunatic who bullied our allies, cozied up to dictators, and started massively destructive trade wars.

Anyway, Acting Chad wasn't going to put out a product that made Trump look bad during the election, so at a July 8 meeting he ordered I&A to put the kibosh on it. According to notes of the meeting, probably taken by Murphy, Acting Chad said the memo "will hurt POTUS -- kill it per his authorities."

The memo was eventually released, but with a "tone box" that suggested some parity between Russian efforts to promote lies about Biden's mental health and supposed efforts by China and Iran to denigrate Donald Trump.

LOL, remember when the entire federal government tried to help Trump get elected by pretending there was a plague of vote fraud, cities were on fire under Democratic leadership, and the real electoral interference was coming from Iran and GIIIIIIIIINA?

Fun times!

Anyway, the IG Report lays the blame for inappropriately politicizing the intelligence process and delaying the release of information regarding ongoing election interference on Acting Chad:

The Department of Homeland Security did not adequately follow its internal processes and comply with applicable Intelligence Community policy standards and requirements when editing and disseminating an Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) intelligence product regarding Russian interference in the 2020 U.S. Presidential election. For example, I&A employees during the review and clearance process changed the product’s scope by making changes that appear to be based in part on political considerations, potentially impacting I&A’s compliance with Intelligence Community policy. Additionally, the Acting Secretary participated in the review process multiple times despite lacking any formal role in reviewing the product, resulting in the delay of its dissemination on at least one occasion.

It's always the ones you most suspect!

In response, Acting Chad insists that he was just violating internal DHS rules to stop Murphy from embarrassing himself, huffing that "the product I saw in July was written at the Fifth-Grade level. I expect more out of our component leaders." He neglects to mention that Murphy had just accused him of perjuring himself before Congress about the family separation policy, and that on August 1 he demoted Murphy, in what sure as hell looks like retaliation, sending an all-staff email saying that Murphy "had gathered and disseminated intelligence reports identifying reporters and other members of the press."

So, yeah, it's really fucking bad, just as we all suspected at the time. At the very moment when Trump was pretending that Joe Biden had bent America's foreign policy toward Ukraine in a cockeyed plot to help his son, and enlisting the Justice Department to investigate Rudy Giuliani's ridiculous allegations, his intelligence agencies were corruptly burying information that might hurt Trump's campaign.

But her emails, amirite?

[IG Report / NYT]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.


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