DHS withheld publication of intel bulletin showing Russian plot to attack Biden’s mental health: report
According to ABC News, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security withheld publication, in early July, of an intelligence bulletin describing a Russian scheme to push “allegations about” Biden’s “poor mental health.”
ABC News has obtained a copy of the bulletin, titled “Russia Likely to Denigrate Health of U.S. Candidates to Influence 2020 Election.” And ABC reporters Josh Margolin, Lucien Bruggeman, Will Steakin and Jonathan Karl note that the document was submitted to the DHS’ office of legislative and public affairs for review on July 7.
“The analysis was not meant for public consumption,” according to the reporters. “But it was set to be distributed to federal, state and local law enforcement partners two days later, on July 9, the e-mails show.”
However, an e-mail obtained by ABC News shows that DHS Chief of Staff John Gountanis intervened, asking DHS employees to “please hold on sending this one out until you have a chance to speak to” Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf. And almost two months later, according to ABC News, the bulletin has yet to be circulated.
The bulletin stated that DHS analysts believed, 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.”
Right-wing Republican Elizabeth Neumann, who formerly served as a DHS assistant secretary under the Trump Administration but recently voiced her support for Biden in a Republican Voters Against Trump video, told ABC News, “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.”
John Cohen, a former undersecretary of intelligence at DHS under President Barack Obama, expressed concerns that the Trump Administration is blocking intelligence information for political purposes.
Cohen told ABC News, “We are hearing concerns being raised publicly that, in this administration, intelligence community reporting is being modified or blocked for political reasons — or to not anger the president. By blocking information from being released that describes threats facing the nation, it undermines the ability of the public and state and local authorities to work with the federal government to counteract the threat.”