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Trump DHS delayed Russian election interference report, watchdog finds

Chad Wolf twice delayed and had altered an intelligence report on Russian interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election when he was acting Department of Homeland Security secretary, according to a government watchdog.

Why it matters: The DHS Office of Inspector General report the decision appears to be “based in part on political considerations” and because it “made President Trump look bad and hurt President Trump’s campaign.” Wolf denied to the OIG that this was the reason for the delay.

  • The finding that staffers in the department’s Intelligence and Analysis office “changed the product’s scope by making changes” partially for political reasons raises objectivity concerns and potentially impacts the I&A’s compliance with Intelligence Community policy, per the OIG report.
  • The intelligence product referred to, “Russia Likely to Denigrate Health of US Candidates to Influence 2020 Electoral Dynamics,” was first being drafted in April 2020 after then-presidential candidate Joe Biden had emerged as a frontrunner in the Democratic race.

Worth noting: The report, which doesn’t name Wolf by name, notes that 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.”

  • Meeting notes taken by a staffer read “‘AS1 [acting secretary] – will hurt POTUS – kill it per his authorities,'” and the employee told the OIG “the Acting Secretary told him to hold the product because it would hurt President Trump; he also believed the Acting Secretary was referring to authorities possessed by the DHS Secretary.”

The other side: “I tried to put myself in the position of one of our state and local partners who would be reading this and I could not see where the product, as written on July 8, would have added any value or given them any knowledge they could use. … The product was not well written,” he said, according to the OIG’s report.

  • Representatives for Wolf did not immediately respond to Axios’ request for comment.

Read the report in full, via DocumentCloud:


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