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Intelligence meddling denied by Trump Homeland Security pick

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security told a Senate committee that a recent whistleblower’s report is “patently false”, denying allegations Wednesday that he molded intelligence reports to suit the administration.

Acting Department of Homeland Security head Chad Wolf also rejected a separate allegation that he withheld an intelligence report on Russian disinformation that targeted former Vice President Joe Biden, testifying in a wide-ranging Senate confirmation hearing.

Both allegations arose early in the hearings as the Senate considers a nominee accused of politicizing the third-largest federal department and faces growing criticism over its handling of civil unrest, COVID-19, and immigration.

“Rhetoric and political ideology cannot drive intelligence reports and it should not predetermine the actions of any federal department,” Sen. Gary Peters, the highest-ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said at the start of the hearing.

Wolf appears to have strong Republican support on the committee but it remains to be seen if the full Senate will vote on his confirmation prior to the Nov. 3 election.

Wolf, who has been acting head of the department since November, also denied a report issued by the Government Accountability Office that found that neither he nor his deputy are legally able to hold their positions because of a violation of the order of succession, a finding that puts some agency actions on immigration and other matters at risk.

Wolf noted that DHS lawyers dispute the GAO finding, which he pointed out is non-binding in any case. “We will continue to operate as we have,” he said.

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