On Saturday, the news emerged that the Trump administration’s Director of National Intelligence — former Congressman John Ratcliffe, who’s a close political ally of the president — would be cancelling in-person briefings for Congress on election security issues, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) alongside House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) promptly condemned the decision. In a letter to Congress, Ratcliffe claimed that keeping Congressional updates written rather than delivered in-person would supposedly help keep messages on track, and, he claimed, it could help prevent unauthorized leaks. Pelosi and Schiff characterized the in-person briefing cancellations as a “shocking abdication” of the intelligence community leadership’s responsibility.
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.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) August 29, 2020
‘This is a shocking abdication of [the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s] 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.’
The ODNI has cancelled all further briefings on foreign election interference.
The Administration clearly does not want Congress or the country informed of what Russia is doing.
The last DNI was fired for doing so, and the IC has now been fully brought to heel.
Our statement: pic.twitter.com/yOeLcb8xht
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) August 29, 2020
Ratcliffe claimed in his letter announcing the cancellation of the briefings that his planned written updates would supposedly satisfy legal requirements for keeping Congress informed. Pelosi and Schiff do not sound convinced, and they insisted that they “will consider the full range of tools available to the House to compel compliance” with the need for information.
Despite the fact that this letter from the ODNI to @SpeakerPelosi is stamped as having been delivered Friday, a source in the Speaker’s office says she was sent it Saturday evening after 5 pm, via email, hours after the story broke and hours after CNN obtained a copy. pic.twitter.com/rpmSLltGH6
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) August 29, 2020
‘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. This keeps both the American people and the Congress in the dark, when both are in need of the information.’
A report from the Trump administration itself has already outlined active threats to election integrity from Russia, China, and Iran, although Pelosi and Schiff claimed that the administration has “sought to promote a false narrative of equivalence among the interests” of those countries. “Only one country – Russia – is actively undertaking a range of measures to undermine the presidential election and to secure the outcome that the Kremlin sees as best serving its interests,” they added. That apparently Kremlin-serving outcome is, of course, the re-election of Donald Trump.
Check out Twitter’s response below: