A long-delayed report from the Department of Homeland Security has finally been released after attempts to keep it out of the public eye due to the controversial nature of its findings, according to The New York Times.

The report, obtained and released by CBS News, calls white supremacy the “most persistent and lethal threat in the homeland” and acknowledges the startling expansion of organized white supremacist groups across the country. 

DHS Homeland Threat Assessment by News Team

Debate over the report has raged for months because a whistleblower told the public that the leaders of DHS, acting secretary Chad Wolf and his deputy Kenneth Cuccinelli, sought to shelve it.

The New York Times reported last month that Brian Murphy, who worked as the Homeland Security Department’s intelligence chief but was demoted in August, said Cuccinelli and Wolf tried to stop the report's release due to how it would “reflect upon President Trump.”

Murphy also accused both men of skewing the report's assessments away from highlighting Russia's disinformation efforts to instead focus on the threats posed by China and Iran. 

In an interview with CBS News, Wolf sought to downplay the report's findings and try to equate white supremacist backed killings with damage to property done during this summer's protests over police brutality and racism.

"If you are only looking at deaths, and you are not looking at property damage, insurance claims and all the other societal factors, and only looking at deaths, then yes, white supremacist extremists sort of lead that category," Wolf told CBS News.

Representative Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, did not hold back in his assessment of the report's findings.

“This threat assessment confirms two things: that white supremacist extremists are the top domestic threat to the homeland, and they are often inspired by President Trump’s rhetoric,” Thompson told the news outlet. 

In an opening statement in the report, Wolf acknowledges the threat of white supremacy and noted that Russia was stoking the spread of false information throughout the country. 

“I am particularly concerned about white supremacist violent extremists who have been exceptionally lethal in their abhorrent, targeted attacks in recent years. Russia is the likely primary covert influence actor and purveyor of disinformation and misinformation within the homeland,” Wolf said.

National security officials have spent years telling Congress and the public that the threat posed by white supremacists was growing and that groups like the Proud Boys and others are organizing at an alarming rate. During testimony in Congress last month, FBI Director Christopher Wray made the same assessment, according to The New York Times. 

Wray said the majority of domestic terrorism threats were related to white supremacists groups and added that the FBI handles about 1,000 domestic terrorism investigations each year. He noted the rise of neo-Nazi groups such as Atomwaffen Division and the Base, highlighting the arrests the GBI has conducted in recent years and the lethal attacks these groups have perpetrated in the United States. 

"Racially and ethnically motivated violent extremists—specifically white supremacist extremists—will remain the most persistent and lethal threat," the report said. 

The report that was released on Tuesday was identical to the leaked reports obtained by news outlets, save for one new section on the recent protests over police brutality and racism.

DHS has been on the receiving end of withering criticism for its role in the violent police response to some protests across the country, particularly in cities like Portland and Seattle, according to CNN. The report includes a new section that focuses in the protests and the "co-opting of lawful protests." The actions of the agency during the protests are currently being investigated.

The report notes that much of the violence being perpetrated by white supremacist groups is being exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, which is fueling anti-government sentiments. 

“We also remain particularly concerned about the impacts from COVID-19, where anti-government and anti-authority violent extremists could be motivated to conduct attacks in response to perceived infringement of liberties and government overreach,” the report said.