The sudden decision by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to cut off congressional briefings on election security is a “shocking abdication of its lawful responsibility” and a “betrayal of the public’s right to know how foreign powers are trying to subvert our democracy,” said a stinging statement Saturday from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).
“This intelligence belongs to the American people. … 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 statement added.
The lawmakers fired back after National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe alerted Senate and House leaders Friday that in-person briefings will no longer be provided to lawmakers. They will be given written updates, but that eliminates the opportunity to ask questions and to obtain real-time clarifications about information.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) accused Ratcliffe, a former Republican congressman, of being in his job “only to protect Trump from democracy, not democracy from Trump.”
President Donald Trump claimed the change was made because his administration got “tired” of leaks, and pointed a finger at Schiff, whom he referred to as “Shifty Schiff.”
Schiff called Trump a liar in a tweet and charged that the president has a vested interest in hiding Russian help in the election.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) scoffed that “with President Trump, all roads lead” to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) called the move an “outrage,” telling The New York Times it “smacks of a cover-up of information about foreign interference in our election.”
Earlier this month, counterintelligence chief William Evanina issued a statement saying U.S. intelligence officials had determined that the Kremlin is trying to smear Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden to sway the election in Trump’s favor.