A top official at the Department of Homeland Security was removed from his post amid reporting that he compiled "intelligence reports" about journalists and protesters in. A person familiar with the matter confirmed to CBS News that the acting Homeland Security Secretary decided to remove Brian Murphy, the acting undersecretary for intelligence and analysis, and reassign him elsewhere in the department.
Murphy's reassignment was first reported by The Washington Post. The Post reported on Thursday that the department's Office of Intelligence and Analysis disseminated three Open Source Intelligence Reports summarizing tweets written by two journalists, saying they had published leaked, unclassified documents about DHS operations in Portland.
Intelligence reports about the journalists' work appeared to justify collecting the information under a standing requirement for intelligence about cybersecurity threats, according to the Post.
Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee sent a letter to Murphy on Friday demanding information about the role his department played in "tracking and suppressing" Portland protesters.
On Saturday, House intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff said in a statement the committee had been conducting an investigation into Murphy and his department for over two weeks before his "abrupt and apparent reassignment."
"In light of recent public reports, we are concerned that Murphy may have provided incomplete and potentially misleading information to Committee staff during our recent oversight engagement, and that the Department of Homeland Security and I&A are now delaying or withholding underlying intelligence products, legal memoranda, and other records requested by the Committee that could shed light on these actions," Schiff said in the statement.
The actions of Homeland Security officials in Portland have been under scrutiny in recent weeks. After weeks of protests at the federal courthouse following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, agents from a number of different departments within Homeland Security were deployed to the city to reinforce the Federal Protective Services, which had jurisdiction over the courthouse.
After the federal agents arrived, they clashed with protesters for several days. Agents deployed tear gas and other non-lethal munitions. In defending the actions of federal agents, acting Homeland Security director Chad Wolf.
Amid the clashes, U.S. District Judge Michael Simon on July 23and using force against clearly identified journalists in Portland for 14 days. Over a dozen journalists and legal observers on Tuesday filed a motion accusing federal agents of defying the judge's order.
Protests continued on Friday night largely without the presence of federal agents, CBS Portland affiliate KOIN reports. There were small bonfires, but Portland police said there was no police interaction with the protesters throughout the night and in the early morning hours.