Aug 9, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Blumenthal calls classified briefing on Russian interference "absolutely chilling"

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D- Conn.) called on the Trump administration to declassify intelligence detailing Russian efforts to influence the 2020 elections, telling MSNBC on Sunday that the classified briefing lawmakers received about the Kremlin's activities last week was "absolutely chilling."

The big picture: National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina said in a statement Friday that the Russian government is "using a range of measures" to "denigrate" Joe Biden ahead of the election. China and Iran would prefer that Trump is defeated, according to Evanina.

Driving the news: Blumenthal suggested in a Washington Post op-ed Saturday that Sen. Ron Johnson's (R-Wis.) investigation into Joe Biden and his son's activities in Ukraine may be laundering Russian disinformation, citing a report that Johnson had been provided with tapes by a Ukrainian lawmaker whose father was a KGB agent.

  • Johnson has denied allegations that he is amplifying Russian disinformation, saying in a statement to the Post: “I will not be deterred by these despicable tactics designed to discredit a legitimate investigation. It only increases my curiosity: What do they know that we might uncover?"
  • Top Democrats in the House and Senate have called for the FBI to provide Congress with a "defensive briefing" regarding what appears to be a "concerted foreign interference campaign" targeting Congress.

What he's saying: "The information that I heard in this classified setting, where we're sworn to secrecy, is absolutely chilling, startling and shocking," Blumenthal said.

  • "The American people need and deserve to know it. It comes from intelligence sources that we are now barred from revealing. But the next step really is for the Trump administration to declassify it to make it available. "
  • The intelligence suggests "that the past Soviet, or Russian techniques, are looking like child's play compared to what they're doing now globally," he added.

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