Last week, the Trump administration’s Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which is led by the president’s close political ally John Ratcliffe, announced that they’d be cancelling in-person briefings for Congress on election security-related issues. The decision quickly sparked condemnation from figures like House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) who, in a joint statement alongside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), insisted that the written updates that Ratcliffe planned to provide instead of the in-person briefings did not adequately fulfill Congress’s need for information. Schiff reiterated his condemnation during a Sunday morning appearance on CNN’s State of the Union.
Asked why the written reports aren’t “enough,” Schiff said:
‘You can state things in a written report that are not correct and you can’t be subject to questioning about it. This is the problem we’ve had — for example, we saw, about a month ago, the head of the intelligence community — his director of national counterintelligence, Bill Evanina — issue a public statement that drew a false equivalence between what Russia was doing and between what China and Iran are doing, and he was called out on it, and we had hearings in the Congress where he could be held to account… and the result was they were forced to issue a second statement that acknowledged, no, Russia is actually intervening to help Donald Trump and denigrate Joe Biden. China has a preference.
As the Congressional leader noted, the National Counterintelligence and Security Center’s Director Bill Evanina recently issued a statement outlining apparent threats to the integrity of the election from Russia, China, and Iran. The Trump administration has faced steep criticism for supposedly trying to minimize the unique threat from Russia. Even Evanina’s controversial report noted that Russia “is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden and what it sees as an anti-Russia ‘establishment,'” which the report noted “is consistent with Moscow’s public criticism of [Biden] 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.”
‘Being able to call them out, hold them accountable, have them testify before Congress, [and] place them under oath if necessary forces accountability. When you can hide behind documents and withhold documents and not have to answer questions about it, it lets you conceal the truth.’
Check out his comments below:
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff on why written reports about election security from the DNI is not enough for House and Senate Select Committees on Intelligence: “You can state things in a written report that are not correct and you can’t be subject to questioning about it” #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/3Ik1ZLZYrx
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) August 30, 2020
President Trump himself has weighed in on the subject with completely baseless allegations that Schiff himself has been responsible for leaks of information that has previously been given to Congress. Leak prevention was one of the explanations cited by Ratcliffe in his letter announcing the in-person briefing cancellations.
‘Probably Shifty Schiff, but others also, LEAK information to the Fake News. No matter what or who it is about, including China, these deranged lowlifes like the Russia, Russia, Russia narrative. Plays better for them. @DNI_Ratcliffe doing a great job!’
There is no evidence for the president’s claims. He sounds like he’s essentially pulling things out of thin air.
Probably Shifty Schiff, but others also, LEAK information to the Fake News. No matter what or who it is about, including China, these deranged lowlifes like the Russia, Russia, Russia narrative. Plays better for them. @DNI_Ratcliffe doing a great job! https://t.co/44bRm8NFbB
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 30, 2020