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Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sept. 1. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The House and Senate Intelligence Committees are investigating the Department of Homeland Security based on a former senior officials' whistleblower complaint that he was told to stop giving assessments on threats of Russian interference in the U.S. because it "made the president look bad," lawmakers announced Friday.

Why it matters: The National Counterintelligence and Security Center has concluded that Russia is seeking to undermine Joe Biden's campaign and the Democratic Party, while supporting President Trump's candidacy.

  • DHS warned law enforcement last week that it believes Russian-controlled social media trolls and state media are likely to continue trying to sow distrust in U.S. election results and mail-in ballots.
  • Russian hackers have consistently targeted Republican and Democrat consultants, political advocacy groups and national party organizations affiliated with the 2020 election since September of last year, Microsoft said in a blog post on Thursday.

Driving the news: The whistleblower, intelligence and analysis acting undersecretary Brian Murphy, alleged that he was told to report instead on interference activities by China and Iran, which have also been identified as pressing threats for election interference.

  • Murphy is also involved in the House committees' existing investigation into the DHS. The agency reassigned him after his office analyzed communications between Portland protesters and supplied law enforcement with lists of journalists that had published leaked agency documents, the Washington Post first reported.

What they're saying: "The misconduct and abuses detailed in the complaint occurred as early as 2018, continued through this year, and have been longstanding subjects of Committee oversight," Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said in a statement on Friday.

  • "These allegations, if true, raise serious concerns about a potential disregard for the objectivity and impartiality of intelligence analysis," Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) said in a letter to the agency on Friday.

Read Schiff's letter.

Go deeper

Nov 25, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump pardons Michael Flynn

President Trump with Michael Flynn in 2016. Photo: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

President Trump on Wednesday pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in the Mueller investigation to lying to FBI agents about his conversations with a former Russian ambassador.

Why it matters: It is the first of multiple pardons expected in the coming weeks, as Axios scooped Tuesday night.

Scoop: Trump tells confidants he plans to pardon Michael Flynn

Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

President Trump has told confidants he plans to pardon his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts, two sources with direct knowledge of the discussions tell Axios.

Behind the scenes: Sources with direct knowledge of the discussions said Flynn will be part of a series of pardons that Trump issues between now and when he leaves office.

Bipartisan group of senators seeks coronavirus stimulus deal

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

At least eight Republican and Democratic senators have formed an informal working group aimed at securing new coronavirus spending during the lame-duck session, a move favored by President-elect Biden, two sources familiar with the group tell Axios.

Why it matters: It may be the most significant bipartisan step toward COVID relief in months.