Chad Wolf, DHS block Intel warning about Russian smear campaign

The Trump Timeline

Sources linked at end of page.


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The Department of Homeland Security receives a bulletin from its intelligence branch warning that Russia is behind a scheme to promote Joe Biden as having cognitive decline. The bulletin is sent to Acting Secretary Chad Wolf who blocks its scheduled release because it “made the President look bad.”

The draft bulletin, titled “Russia Likely to Denigrate Health of US Candidates to Influence 2020 Election,” was submitted to the agency’s legislative and public affairs office for review on July 7. The analysis was not meant for public consumption, but it was set to be distributed to federal, state and local law enforcement partners two days later, on July 9, the emails show.

Just one hour after its submission, however, a senior DHS official intervened.

“Please hold on sending this one out until you have a chance to speak to [acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf],” wrote DHS Chief of Staff John Gountanis, according to an email obtained by ABC News.

That was nearly two months ago. But the bulletin was never circulated…

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.”

“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.

ABC News

Donald Trump’s first Twitter attack of Joe Biden’s mental health and use of the nickname “Sleepy Joe” took place in April. The first article from a “Russian proxy website” attacking Biden’s mental health was published in March.

“[Biden’s] record is terrible. He can’t even talk about his record. He forgets his record, he forgets everything.”

Donald J. Trump

“Biden doesn’t know he’s alive.”

Donald J. Trump

In September, this is confirmed again by Brian Murphy, the official who brought the bulletin to Chad Wolf.

Wolf told Murphy that the intelligence notification should be “held” because it “made the President look bad,” the complaint says. Murphy objected, the complaint says, “stating that it was improper to hold a vetted intelligence product for reasons of political embarrassment.”

Wolf then excluded Murphy from future meetings on the subject.

NBC News


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