DHS withheld bulletin warning of Russian planned attack on Biden's mental health: report

Source: The Hill | September 2, 2020 | Marty Johnson

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in July withheld an analysis meant for its federal, state and local law enforcement partners that warned Russia would attempt to push “allegations about the poor mental health” of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

ABC reported that the analysis also touches on efforts by Iran and China to ream President Trump but that the report mostly focuses on Russia’s attacks on Biden’s mental acuity.

Titled “Russia Likely to Denigrate Health of US Candidates to Influence 2020 Election,” the bulletin was submitted for review to DHS’s legislative and public affairs office on July 7, with the intention of it being released to the appropriate parties on July 9.

However, shortly after it was submitted, a senior DHS officer intervened, emails obtained by ABC News show.

“Please hold on sending this one out until you have a chance to speak to [acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf],” agency chief of staff John Gountanis wrote.

Despite this happening in July, the memo has still never circulated, according to the network.

A DHS spokesperson told ABC that although the agency “generally does not comment on leaked documents, this particular draft product lacked the necessary context and evidence for broader dissemination outside of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis.”

“After briefing the Acting Secretary and he asked questions,” the spokesperson told the network, “[Office of Intelligence and Analysis] career leadership decided to delay the product for further review.”

In the report, the agency reportedly says that it has “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 DHS secretary during the Trump administration, told ABC News.

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