Trump administration halts election security briefings, Democrats complain
Iran Press TV
Sunday, 30 August 2020 10:10 AM
The US' top intelligence office has announced that it would bring to a halt in-person briefings on election security citing leaks from congressional committees.
The office would send written reports instead, John Ratcliffe, new director of national intelligence, told the House and Senate intelligence panels on Friday, according to an official in Ratcliffe's office.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said the office was "concerned about unauthorized disclosures of sensitive information following recent briefings."
The move, which would give lawmakers less opportunity to press for details as the presidential election approaches, drew heated rejoinders from Democrats who have focused on alleged foreign efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election and again the upcoming one.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff have condemned the move, saying in a statement, "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."
Ratcliffe's office, which had originally offered to hold in-person briefings for the House and Senate oversight panels next month, later rescinded the offer.
On Saturday, Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican and acting chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said Ratcliffe had promised to fulfill the intelligence community's obligations to keep Congress members informed.
Rubio said Ratcliffe, a close political ally of Republican President Donald Trump, had told him that the committee would continue receiving briefings on all oversight topics, which also include election matters.
Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, told reporters that Ratcliffe would "ultimately give full briefings, in terms of not oral briefings, but fully intel briefings."
Meanwhile, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said this month that Russia, which allegedly interfered in the 2016 presidential election in favor of Trump, was trying to "denigrate" his 2020 Democratic opponent Joe Biden.
Both Trump and Russia have repeatedly dismissed the accusations of any collusion.
"For clarity and to protect sensitive intelligence from unauthorized disclosures, we will primarily do that through written finished intelligence products," the ODNI official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Biden said in a statement late on Saturday that ODNI was limiting one of the intelligence community's most basic duties, describing the move as "nothing less than a shameless partisan manipulation to protect the personal interests of President Trump."
Biden is leading in opinion polls ahead of the November 3 election.
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