Trump administration halts election security briefings, Democrats complain By
Trump administration halts election security briefings, Democrats complain By
Senior intelligence officials will no longer brief Congress in person on foreign threats to the 2020 election
30 August, 2020, 18:52
Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe notified lawmakers Friday that his office will no longer brief congressional intelligence committees on the hot-button topic. Instead, ODNI will primarily provide written updates to the congressional panels, a senior administration official said.
In a joint statement Saturday, Schiff and Pelosi called the administration's move a "shocking abdication of its lawful responsibility to keep the Congress now informed", while Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Ratcliffe "has made clear he's in the job only to protect Trump from democracy, not democracy from Trump".
ODNI officials were particularly angry about a leak from an all-House classified briefing led by top counterintelligence official Bill Evanina late last month, where Pelosi accused him of keeping Americans in the dark about the details of Russia's continued interference in the 2020 campaign.
"This is a shocking abdication of its lawful responsibility to keep the Congress now informed, and a betrayal of the public's right to know how foreign powers are trying to subvert our democracy", she said in a joint statement with Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), who chairs the House Intelligence Committee.
They said they switched to written format "to protect sensitive intelligence".
The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and the Democratic head of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, said the public had the right to know how foreign powers were trying to subvert American democracy. Check back for updates.
In a separate statement, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Ratcliffe had "made clear he's in the job only to protect Trump from democracy, not democracy from Trump".
"This is a shocking abdication of its lawful responsibility to keep the Congress now informed, and a betrayal of the public's right to know how foreign powers are trying to subvert our democracy", they said in a statement.
Mr. Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, said Saturday that "it comes down to one simple thing: A few members talked to the press and disclosed information that they shouldn't have disclosed and so he's going to make sure there's proper tools for their oversight and make sure that they contain it in a way that does not jeopardize sources or methods for the intel that we gather".
Speaking from Orange, Texas, on Saturday, where he was surveying damage from Hurricane Laura, President Trump said Ratcliffe was ending the briefings in order to prevent leaks.
"America's election - indeed, our foundation of democracy itself - is under threat as we face weaponized disinformation from global foes around the planet", King, a member of the Senate's intelligence committee, said in a lengthy statement.
It also runs counter to their pledge of transparency and briefings on election security.
This news prompted a backlash from Democrats who have pushed for a public release on the said efforts.
"While many of these engagements and products have been successful and productive, others have been less so", he wrote.
An ODNI official said the office was committed to "meeting our statutory responsibilities and keeping Congress fully and now informed".
Michael Adams, Kentucky's Republican Secretary of State, testified to the House Homeland Security Committee that there have been attempts to disrupt his state's election systems.
It was unclear whether Rubio meant those would be in-person briefings.
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