WASHINGTON (Reuters) – (This Dec 9 story corrects last paragraph to reflect that Murphy’s team was scheduled to meet only with representatives of DHS’ Inspector General’s office, instead of Inspector General’s office as well as Transportation Security Administration.)
A former U.S. Homeland Security intelligence official who said he was told to stop discussing the threat of Russian interference in the election and to highlight the role of left-wing groups in anti-racism protests is expected to testify to a congressional panel on Friday.
Brian Murphy filed a whistleblower complaint about what he said were efforts by top Department of Homeland Security officials to have intelligence reporting on last summer’s protests, including those in Portland, Oregon, skewed to highlight political themes promoted by President Donald Trump.
The Democratic-controlled House Intelligence Committee initially sought to take a closed-door deposition in September from Murphy. The testimony was delayed while Murphy and his lawyers sought access to records, including highly-classified materials he handled while running DHS intelligence, and while his lawyers sought high-level security clearances.
“Mr. Murphy is scheduled for a closed door staff-led interview on Friday,” a House committee official said on Wednesday.
DHS had no immediate comment on Murphy’s anticipated testimony.
His lawyer Mark Zaid said that he and two other lawyers representing Murphy have now been granted Top Secret clearances although they have been denied access to classified materials which Murphy worked on.
In the complaint Murphy accused acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf of telling 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 said Wolf told him in mid-May instead to play up political interference threats posed by China and Iran, and to highlight the involvement of left-wing groups in protests.
Before Friday’s House committee appearance, Murphy’s team was scheduled to meet with representatives of DHS’ Inspector General’s office. Murphy’s lawyers expected to discuss DHS intelligence reporting on Portland with the Inspector General’s office.
(Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Grant McCool)