Trump’s intelligence chief shuts down electoral security briefings in Congress – National


WASHINGTON (AP) – The country’s top intelligence official informed Congress his office would no longer be giving in-person election security briefings on Capitol Hill, a move that raised concerns among lawmakers on Saturday over public to be informed of foreign interference in the upcoming presidential election.US President Donald Trump said National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe made the decision because the administration “was tired” of election security intelligence leaking from Congress.

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“They leaked the information… and what’s even worse, they leaked bad information and we’ve had enough,” Trump told reporters at a Hurricane Laura briefing in Orange, Texas. He did not provide details to support his statement.

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Senator Angus King, I-Maine, said the idea that the National Intelligence Director’s office would stop informing Congress about foreign threats to the US election is “a scandal” and that the written updates were “Totally insufficient”.

“The US elections – in fact, our foundation of democracy itself – are under threat as we face armed disinformation from global enemies around the planet,” said King, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in a long press release. “Stifling and limiting the awareness of this fact by Americans cannot be explained – nor allowed.”

Ratcliffe, who oversees the nation’s intelligence agencies, on Saturday sent formal notification letters to Senate and House leaders, as well as chairmen and senior members of intelligence committees in both houses.

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In the letter, Ratcliffe wrote: “I believe this approach helps ensure, to the extent possible, that the information provided by ODNI to Congress in support of your election security oversight responsibilities, l pernicious foreign influence and electoral interference are neither misunderstood nor politicized. . “

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White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who was with Trump in Texas, said lawmakers will still receive full written readings. Meadows said Ratcliffe will ensure there are “appropriate tools for their monitoring.”

Earlier this month, the country’s counterintelligence chief William Evanina released a statement saying U.S. intelligence officials believe Russia was using various methods to disparage Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and that people linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin were pushing Trump for re-election. U.S. officials also believe China doesn’t want Trump to win a second term and has stepped up his criticism of the White House, Evanina wrote.

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Democratic lawmakers on Saturday criticized Ratcliffe’s move.

“This information belongs to the American people, not the agencies that are its custodians,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, the Democrat who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, in a statement. spouse. “The American people have both the right and the need to know that another nation, Russia, is trying to help decide who should be their president.”

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Pelosi and Schiff called the move “a betrayal of the public’s right to know how foreign powers are trying to overthrow our democracy.”

An official from the House Intelligence Committee said the decision was unexpected because Ratcliffe’s office earlier requested an in-person briefing from the committee on September 17. A room on Capitol Hill had already been reserved, according to the official, who was not allowed to speak publicly about the matter and requested anonymity.

© 2020 The Canadian Press


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