The Office of Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security has confirmed something that many of you probably already suspected: Chad Wolf — the man Donald Trump installed as acting Secretary of the DHS in 2019 — intercepted, modified, and delayed a report from the department’s intelligence division that outlined the scope of Russia’s interference in the 2020 presidential election.
A report by the Inspector General’s office detailed a massive failure by the DHS under Wolf to follow proper procedures leading to what is diplomatically referred to as a “risk of creating a perception of politicization” — as if that wasn’t Wolf’s (and Trump’s) intent from the start.
“We found that DHS did not adequately follow its internal processes and comply with applicable policy standards and requirements when editing and disseminating an I&A intelligence product regarding Russian interference with the 2020 U.S. Presidential election,” the report says. “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. The delays and deviation from I&A [Office of Intelligence and Analysis] standard process and requirements put [them] at risk of creating a perception of politicization.”
“The delays and deviation from I&A’s standard process and requirements put I&A at risk of creating a perception of politicization. This conclusion is supported by I&A’s own tradecraft assessment, which determined that the product might be viewed as politicized,” the report asserts. “The Acting Secretary’s involvement in I&A’s process caused a delay in the product’s release and potentially furthered the perception of politicization surrounding the product.”
In other words, the Trump political appointee interfered with an intelligence assessment to delay the relase of information not because of any concern with the validity of the information about Russia’s actions interfering with yet another U.S. presidential election after its heavy involvement in the 2016 election that was detailed in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report, but because — as a whistleblower quoted Wolf as saying — the report “made the president look bad.”
No wonder the report fretted about “the perception of politicization.” It’s difficult to interpret Wolf’s actions as anything but political!
Wolf was initially appointed as the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security after the previous Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan resigned in the wake of allegations that his appoinment was improper because it broke the succession rules after Trump’s first DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned. The Government Accountability Office later ruled that McAleenan’s appointment was indeed improper in a decision that also meant that the man who replaced him, Chad Wolf, was also improperly appointed to the role.
Unfortunately, by the time that the GAO and federal courts ruled that Wolf was ineligible for the Acting Secretary role, the damage — in the form of the questionable handling of the intelligence report that could have alerted the public to another case of Russian electoral interference — had already been done. Despite the controversy over the legality of his serving as Acting DHS Secretary, Wolf didn’t actually resign from his position at DHS until January of 2021, just days before Joe Biden took office.
The report that Wolf delayed and edited to please Trump was finally released well after election in March of 2021. It found that “Kremlin-backed agents authorized by President Vladimir Putin tried to use President Trump’s inner circle and right-leaning media to undermine his opponent.” Surprise, surprise!
Brian Murphy, the whistleblower who alleged that Wolf was interfering with the release of the intelligence report, told CBS News that Wolf’s aims were entirely political.
“Russian disinformation was something [DHS leadership] didn’t want to report on. It mattered. It had a material impact on life and safety of how the events unfolded during 2018 and forward,” he explained. “Wolf told me that the plan with respect to the administration was to downplay Russian disinformation, that was supporting the Democrats… and instead, upscale the threat from China. That’s where the real manipulation by the politicals came into effect.”
Now that DHS’s Office of Inspector General has confirmed Murphy’s account of the political manipulation of the intelligence report, one question comes to mind.
Why are there no actual consequences for Wolf or anyone else in the Trump administration for their obviously politically tainted actions? How can we prevent this sort of corruption from happening again if no one is held accountable?
Here’s a look at an excerpt of the Inspector General’s report, courtesy of Eric Gellar, the cyber security reporter from POLITICO:
New DHS IG report finds that the DHS' intel division modified a report on Russian interference in the 2020 election to blunt the impact of its finding that Russia was aiding Trump, and that acting Sec Chad Wolf ordered it frozen b/c it would "hurt POTUS." https://t.co/kQ7w5zeGzC pic.twitter.com/foomBHLGOG
— Eric Geller (@ericgeller) May 3, 2022
Original reporting by Travis Gettys at RawStory.
Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.