Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of homeland security, interfered with a report on Russian interference in the 2020 election by demanding changes, delaying its dissemination and creating a risk that the report might be seen as politicised, a government watchdog said.
The report was declassified in March 2021 as a summary of foreign election interference into the 2020 election. An analyst in the Department of Homeland Security DHS complained that Wolf, along with his predecessor Kirstjen Nielsen and his deputy secretary, Ken Cuccinelli, tried to help Trump in 2020, while Iran tried to hurt him and China stayed out of it.
In mid-May 2020 Wolf instructed him to stop providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference in the United States and instead report on interference activities by China and Iran. The analyst said that in July 2020 he was ordered to delay the report because it made the president look bad. A DHS spokesman flatly denied the claim.
The office of the DHS inspector general released its own report on Tuesday. It found that DHS did not properly follow its internal processes and comply with applicable intelligence community policy standards and requirements when disseminating an Office of Intelligence and Analysis I&A intelligence product regarding Russian interference in the 2020 US presidential election. The report said that changes that appear to be based on political considerations included the insertion of a tone box about China and Iran.
The acting secretary Wolf participated in the review process multiple times despite not having a formal role in reviewing the product, which has resulted in a delay in its dissemination on at least one occasion.
The delays and deviations from I&A's standard process and requirements risked creating a perception of politicisation. This conclusion is supported by I&A's tradecraft assessment, which determined that the product might be viewed as politicised. Wolf is now a head of the America First Policy Institute, a pro-Trump thinktank. He told NBC News that the watchdog didn't find any credible evidence that I had to change the substance of the report because it made President Trump look bad. He also said that the grossly false whistleblower complaint against me was withdrawn from the report, which was dealt with on page nine of 42 in the watchdog report.
On page 11, the watchdog said: Based on our interviews with relevant officials, as well as our document review, it is clear that the acting secretary asked the acting USIA under secretary for intelligence and analysis to hold the product from its pending release.
We interviewed the acting USIA, who told us that the product had to be held because President Trump looked bad and hurt President Trump's campaign despite the fact that Russia denigrating candidate Biden would be used against President Trump.
The acting USIA also told us that he took contemporaneous notes of the meeting, a copy of which we obtained. The notes read AS 1 will hurt POTUS kill it per his authorities The acting USIA told us these notes meant that the acting secretary told him to hold the product because it would hurt President Trump. Wolf and others denied that, according to the watchdog.
Its report included a 7 July email telling the acting USIA to hold on sending this one out until you have a chance to speak to Wolf. Wolf told the watchdog he wanted the delay because the report was poorly written.
The report's dissemination was delayed in August, according to the watchdog.