President Donald Trump’s administration announced Friday that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) would be putting an end to in-person briefings to Congress on election security, citing concerns about ongoing leaks, the Washington Examiner reported.
In a move that left House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and her allies in the media furious, Trump’s director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, wrote in letters to Congress that his office will be opting for written communication rather than in-person briefings going forward.
“In order to ensure clarity and consistency across the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s engagements with Congress on elections, the ODNI will primarily meet its obligation to keep Congress fully and currently informed leading into the Presidential election through written finished intelligence products,” Ratcliffe wrote, according to the Examiner.
He went on: “I believe this approach helps ensure, to the maximum extent possible, that the information ODNI provides the Congress in support of your oversight responsibilities on elections security, foreign malign influence, and election interference is not misunderstood nor politicized.”
Protecting national intelligence
Ratcliffe also told congressional leaders that he believes written briefings will “better protect our sources and methods and most sensitive intelligence from additional unauthorized disclosures or misuse.” But Democrats, for their part, aren’t buying it.
“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,” Pelosi wrote Friday in a joint statement with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), according to the Examiner.
The Democrats added: “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.”
“They leaked the information”
According to the Examiner, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also voiced his disapproval, tweeting Saturday that the move is “unacceptable.”
“DNI Ratcliffe has made clear he’s in the job only to protect Trump from democracy, not democracy from Trump,” Schumer added.
The president, for his part, has defended Ratcliffe and said the change was only necessary because of leaks from Schiff’s Intelligence Committee.
“Director Ratcliffe brought information into the committee, and the information leaked,” Trump said at an event in Texas on Saturday, according to Politico. “Whether it was Shifty Schiff or somebody else, they leaked the information… And what’s even worse, they leaked the wrong information. And [Ratcliffe] got tired of it. So he wants to do it in a different forum, because you have leakers on the committee.”
During a Sunday appearance on MSNBC, Schiff denied that he was the one leaking, but said he “can’t speak” for anyone else on his panel, the Examiner reported separately.