President Donald Trump’s Dept. of Homeland Security blocked the publication of an intelligence bulletin warning about a Russian disinformation campaign attacking Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s mental fitness, in an attempt to influence the election and help Trump win re-election. The report, set to be published and sent to federal, state, and local law enforcement, was put on hold by order of the Chief of Staff to acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf in early July, just two days before it was scheduled to be released.
ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, who broke the story with two other reporters, spoke on “Good Morning America” Wednesday. He notes that after the intelligence bulletin was blocked, Trump’s Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, notified Congress they would no longer be receiving in-person intelligence briefings.
EXCLUSIVE: DHS withheld publication of intelligence bulletin warning of Russian scheme to push “allegations about the poor mental health” of Joe Biden, per emails and document draft obtained by @ABC. @jonkarl has the full story. https://t.co/E2Af2hBsTz pic.twitter.com/Ro5yk3BkzQ
— Good Morning America (@GMA) September 2, 2020
In its online report ABC News notes that the “Trump campaign has repeatedly engaged in a similar line of attack” against Biden, falsely denigrating his mental health.
“According to the draft bulletin, analysts determined with ‘high confidence’ that ‘Russian malign influence actors are likely to continue denigrating presidential candidates through allegations of poor mental or physical health to influence the outcome of the 2020 election,'” ABC adds.
“High confidence means what it sounds like — that they are highly confident that their assessment is accurate and they don’t use that language very often,” Elizabeth Neumann, a former assistant secretary of Homeland Security during the Trump administration, told ABC News.
The DHS intelligence bulletin also noted that China and Iran would be attempting to spread a similar attack, but about President Donald Trump’s mental health.
President Trump announced last week that acting DHS Secretary Wolf would be nominated to become his permanent DHS Secretary.
Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Juliette Kayyem weighs in:
In light of @jonkarl scoop about DHS Acting Sec. Wolf's office silencing intel document meant for state and local stakeholders regarding Russian misinformation, the reason for Ratcliffe stopping oral briefings is clearer.
This isn't about leaks. It's about protecting Russia. https://t.co/eI4tSfcxEa
— Juliette Kayyem (@juliettekayyem) September 2, 2020
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