The official added that different businesses supporting election security, together with the Department of Justice, Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security, intend to proceed briefing Congress.
Still, the abrupt announcement is a change that runs counter to the pledge of transparency and common briefings on election threats by the intelligence group.
President Donald Trump stated Saturday that Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe “got tired of” info leaking “so, he wants to do it in a different form.”
“Director Ratcliffe brought information into the committee, and the information leaked,” Trump stated at an occasion in Texas.
“So, he wants to do it in a different form because you have leakers on the committee, obviously, leakers that are doing bad things, probably not even legal to leak, but we’ll look into that separately,” Trump stated.
In response to Trump’s accusations about leaks, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff tweeted, “As usual, President Trump is lying and projecting. Trump fired the last DNI for briefing Congress on Russian efforts to help his campaign. Now he’s ending briefings altogether. Trump doesn’t want the American people to know about Russia’s efforts to aid his re-election.”
‘Shocking abdication’ of lawful duty
Although the letter from the ODNI to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is stamped as having been delivered Friday, a supply within the speaker’s office stated the office solely acquired the letter Saturday night after 5 p.m., by way of e mail, hours after the story broke on CNN and hours after CNN obtained a replica of it. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer solely acquired his letter late Saturday, too, in response to a Schumer aide.
The House Intelligence Committee acquired verbal notification of the change on Friday, with out rationale, it however didn’t obtain the ODNI letter till Saturday after 5 p.m., a supply stated, and the Senate Intelligence Committee acquired it at 5:10 p.m.
Democratic leaders on Saturday denounced the choice by the ODNI to no longer present in-person briefings to members of Congress, together with the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, on election security.
“This is a shocking abdication of its lawful responsibility to keep the Congress currently informed, and a betrayal of the public’s right to know how foreign powers are trying to subvert our democracy. This intelligence belongs to the American people, not the agencies which are its custodian. And the American people have both the right and the need to know that another nation, Russia, is trying to help decide who their president should be,” Pelosi and Schiff stated in a press release.
“The ODNI had requested the opportunity to brief the intelligence committees and the full US House of Representatives in mid-September and has now cancelled those briefings and said it would hold no others. This is shameful and — coming only weeks before the election — demonstrates that the Trump Administration is engaged in a politicized effort to withhold election-related information from Congress and the American people at the precise moment that greater transparency and accountability is required,” Pelosi and Schiff added.
Schumer on Saturday additionally referred to as the choice to not present briefings an “abdication of the Intelligence Community’s duty” and stated Ratcliffe “has made clear he’s in the job only to protect Trump from democracy, not democracy from Trump.”
“Our intelligence officials have said there’s an active, ongoing assault on our democratic process from Russia. President Trump is simply using John Ratcliffe to hide the ugly truth from the American people – that the President is again receiving the help of the Kremlin,” the New York Democrat stated in a press release.
Former Vice President Joe Biden’s marketing campaign condemned the transfer and referred to as on it to be reversed.
“For his administration to constrain the information being provided to the peoples’ representatives in Congress as this national security threat multiplies — especially given Donald Trump’s unprecedented welcoming of these assaults on our democracy for his own gain — is deeply alarming. This should be reversed immediately,” spokesman Andrew Bates stated in a press release Saturday.
An ODNI official defended the transfer Saturday, telling CNN that Ratcliffe “is committed to meeting our statutory responsibilities and keeping Congress fully and currently informed.”
“For clarity and to protect sensitive intelligence from unauthorized disclosures, we will primarily do that through written finished intelligence products. We are concerned with unauthorized disclosures of sensitive information following recent briefings,” the official stated.
Frustration over leaks
Intelligence officers have beforehand expressed frustration over info introduced in labeled periods with congressional committees leaking to the press however supplied no indication of a coming change to the briefing format.
“In an election year, we recognize that no matter what the U.S. Intelligence Community says on this issue, it will be parsed, spun and likely criticized in the U.S. political ecosystem. The bottom line is that this represents the most current, accurate and objective election threat information the Intelligence Community has to offer the public at this time,” an ODNI official instructed CNN earlier this month.
“The steps we have taken thus far to inform the public and other key stakeholders on threats to the election … are unprecedented for the Intelligence Community. We will continue providing election threat updates to the American public, the presidential campaigns, political committees, and members of Congress,” the ODNI official added.
Last month, the highest intelligence official for election security, Bill Evanina, additionally reiterated a dedication to offering “robust intelligence-based briefings on election security” to key stakeholders that embody Congress, together with the political events and presidential campaigns.
A shift to written briefings will undoubtedly restrict lawmakers’ potential to ask questions of intelligence officers in actual time, in response to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
“With a written release or a written report, you avoid the back-and-forth of questions, some of which could be quite probing. And I think, I think the DNI would like to avoid that and avoid the risk of saying something that might incur the wrath of the President,” Clapper stated on Saturday.
“I think this is a terrible thing with respect to the need to inform the electorate about what foreign nations are doing to interfere in our political process, most notably the Russians,” added Clapper, a CNN contributor.
CNN has reached out to committee officers for remark.
Intelligence officers warned Russia searching for to ‘denigrate’ Biden
“We assess that China prefers that President Trump — whom Beijing sees as unpredictable — does not win reelection,” he wrote. “China has been expanding its influence efforts ahead of November 2020 to shape the policy environment in the United States, pressure political figures it views as opposed to China’s interests, and deflect and counter criticism of China.”
“We assess that Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden and what it sees as an anti-Russia ‘establishment.’ This is consistent with Moscow’s public criticism of him when he was Vice President for his role in the Obama Administration’s policies on Ukraine and its support for the anti-Putin opposition inside Russia,” Evanina added.
Evanina additionally acknowledged that Iran is searching for to “undermine US democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country.”
At the time, Pelosi and Schiff stated Evanina’s assertion improved on the earlier warning about overseas election interference he issued in July, however “still treats three actors of differing intent and capability as equal threats to our democratic elections.”
In a joint assertion, the highest Republican and Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sens. Marco Rubio and Mark Warner, thanked Evanina for offering the extra details about the threats and inspired the intelligence group to “continue to make this information available.”
US officers charged with defending the 2020 election additionally stated final week that they’ve “no information or intelligence” overseas international locations, together with Russia, are trying to undermine any a part of the mail-in voting course of, contradicting Trump, who has repeatedly pushed false claims that overseas adversaries are concentrating on mail ballots as a part of a “rigged” presidential race.
Specifically, a senior intelligence official discounted the potential for overseas actors mass producing pretend ballots to intrude within the November elections, once more breaking with Trump who has continued to insist that mail-in voting poses a big risk to election security.
“We have no information or intelligence that any nation state threat actor is engaging in activity … to undermine any part of the mail-in vote or ballots,” the official instructed reporters on Wednesday.
This story has been up to date with further reporting and background info.
CNN’s Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.