Aug 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Schiff: Withholding intel briefings allows Trump to "conceal the truth"

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) accused the Trump administration on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday of ending in-person election security briefings to Congress to "conceal the truth" about Russian interference in the 2020 elections.

Driving the news: The Office of the Director of National Intelligence canceled future in-person briefings on election security issues to the congressional intelligence committees, announcing it will only provide written updates in order to minimize the potential for leaks.

  • Schiff denied that he or members of his staff have leaked classified information to the press, as President Trump has accused him of doing. But he rejected the notion that ODNI has stopped the briefings because they're concerned about leaks.
  • "What changed is the president, probably in another fit, saying I don't want Congress informed," Schiff argued. "Because the last time that Congress was informed, the director of national intelligence had to put out another statement to acknowledge the fact that the Russians are helping Donald Trump again."

The big picture: The director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, William Evanina, said in early August that the Russian government is actively "using a range of measures" to "denigrate former Vice President Biden" before the November election.

  • The center has also assessed that China and Iran would prefer that Trump is not re-elected, but Democrats have argued that Russia is the only foreign adversary actively working to interfere in the election.

What he's saying: "He realizes if the country learns again that the Russians once again are intervening to try to help him in the election, he feels that that takes away from their assistance," Schiff said about President Trump.

  • "So he doesn't want the American people to know about it, he doesn't want Congress to know about it. He wants to draw some false equivalence between what the Russians are doing and what others are doing."
  • "He knows that if, and when, they do come and brief Congress, we ask questions and we can get to the bottom of things and that's what he doesn't want. After all, he fired a director for doing exactly this."
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