White supremacist extremists will remain the deadliest domestic terror threat to the United States, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s first annual homeland threat assessment, which details a range of threats from election interference to unprecedented storms.Since 2018, White supremacists have conducted more lethal attacks in the US than any other domestic extremist movement, demonstrating a “longstanding intent” to target racial and religious minorities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, politicians and those they believe promote multi-culturalism and globalization, according to the report.“As Secretary, I am concerned about any form of violent extremism,” wrote acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf. “However, I am particularly concerned about white supremacist violent extremists who have been exceptionally lethal in their abhorrent, targeted attacks in recent years.”The assessment, which comes less than a month before Election Day, was the subject of a recent whistleblower complaint alleging political influence at the department. White supremacy was at the forefront of the first presidential debate last week, when President Donald Trump declined to condemn White supremacists. He instead blamed what he called “antifa and the left” for violence and told the far-right Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”
Concerns about White supremacy have resonated with voters ahead of the presidential election. Most voters in a recent CNN poll (64%) say Trump has not done enough to denounce White supremacist groups, after being asked to do so at the debate. Among people of color, that rises to 76%.
Last month, DHS whistleblower Brian Murphy, who previously ran the department’s intelligence division, alleged in the complaint that top political appointees instructed career DHS officials to modify intelligence assessments to suit Trump’s agenda by downplaying Russia’s efforts to interfere in the US and the threat posed by White supremacists. Murphy was reassigned amid concerns that his office gathered and disseminated intelligence on US reporters.Wolf has denied that the department tried to soften the threat. “I think if you look at the document, Russia is mentioned somewhere in the document between 30 and 40 different times, so if we were trying to downplay Russia, we didn’t do a very good job, I would say,” he told CBS News, which first published the assessment Tuesday.Murphy alleged he had been instructed to modify the section of the assessment on White supremacy in a “manner that made the threat appear less severe, as well as include information on the prominence of violent “left-wing” groups.”The final threat assessment concludes: White supremacist extremists “will remain the most persistent and lethal threat in the Homeland.” Leaked draft versions of the report had slightly different language and placement regarding the threat.