Wolf takes aim at 'fabricated' complaints, reports at confirmation hearing

Chad Wolf blames violence across America on local, state officials not taking unrest seriously enough

Acting Homeland Secretary Chad Wolf on Wednesday fired back at a series of allegations about his time in charge of the Department of Homeland Secretary as he was questioned by senators during a hearing to confirm him to the role.

Wolf has held the position in an acting capacity since last year, replacing then-acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan. President Trump formally nominated him for the position last month.

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DHS has been in the crosshairs over a number of issues, including the treatment of illegal immigrants, intelligence surrounding potential foreign interference in elections and its approach to handling anarchist violence in cities like Portland.

Overnight, reports emerged that the consulting firm where Wolf’s wife is an executive was awarded more than $6 million in DHS contracts since September 2018. NBC reported that the consulting company had a long history of federal contracts but worked for DHS after Wolf became Transportation Security Administration chief of staff in 2017.

Wolf said he found out only about the contracts in response to media inquiries but that he has no role in procurements.

“Whether I was chief of staff, acting secretary, under secretary or any other position at the department, I have no role in procurements, I don’t even see procurements until they are released, in the news, on the street,” he said.

“If I was involved in procurements, which I am not, I have recusals in place to not only include her firm, but clients I had before arriving at the department,” he said. “So again, fabricated story, there’s obviously no evidence of anything but that’s not going to stop folks.”

He had also dismissed as a fabrication a whistleblower report by DHS official Brian Murphy. Murphy alleges he was demoted for refusing to go along with a plan to alter intelligence reports about Russian interference in the election and the threat from White supremacists.

Wolf rejected Murphy's complaint.

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“The whistleblower complaint from Mr. Murphy is patently false, it's a fabrication, completely,” he said. “I reject any claim that I attempted to influence or retaliate against any individual at DHS but specifically Mr. Murphy."

He said Murphy was reassigned because of allegations he abused his authority by personally directing the collection of information on U.S. journalists.

Similarly, he rejected claims that he had withheld an intelligence report that warned that Russia is seeking to question Joe Biden’s mental health. The July 7 memo, originally drafted by DHS’ Office of Intelligence and Analysis, found 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 elections.”

However, it was not released until September. Wolf rejected that it was withheld, though when asked about it by Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., he said: “No, I did not withhold it, I asked for the product to be improved, which they did and that product was released at the beginning of September."

Peters quizzed Wolf on how long it takes to release a report, and why it was delayed for so long.

Wolf said Murphy was the official in charge of Intelligence and Analysis, and he was reassigned in August. He said officials agreed with his assessment that it needed improving, and it came back as a better document.

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“The underlying intelligence remained the same, but it was better sourced, it was put in better context for state and local partners and it was issued I believe on Sept. 4,” he said, adding that it went from a page and a half to more than three pages.

It is unclear what the timeline could be for Wolf’s confirmation, particularly whether he will see a vote in the full Senate before the November election.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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