Sep 9, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Former intel chief Dan Coats slams congressional election briefings move

Daniel Coats, director of National Intelligence, arrives for a Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee hearing January 29, 2019 in Washington DC.

Dan Coats, then-director of National Intelligence, during a 2019 Senate hearing in Washington, D.C. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former Trump administration Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats spoke out during an interview with the Washington Post Wednesday against his successor's move to end in-person briefings to Congress on election security issues.

What he's saying: Coats told WashPost it's "imperative that the intelligence community keep Congress fully informed about the threats to our elections and share as much information as possible while protecting sources and method."

"We must stand united in defending the election security process from being corrupted and ensure that a vote cast is a vote counted."
— Coats' remarks to WashPost

Driving the news: The National Counterintelligence and Security Center 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.

  • Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe informed Congress later in the month that in-person briefings would no longer take place. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said he believed the Senate Intelligence Committee, of which he's acting chair, would still get such updates despite the directive.
  • Coats, a former GOP senator for Indiana, told WashPost such briefings "should be delivered to both the Senate and the House oversight committees and also should be delivered to the duly elected members of the House and Senate at the appropriate classification level when directed by the bipartisan leadership of both the House and the Senate."

Of note: Coats' comments come one day after his former deputy, Sue Gordon, wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post stating that "the national conversation around election security has turned vitriolic, diversionary and unhelpful, and we are doing our enemies’ work for them."

  • Coats told WashPost he "absolutely" agreed with Gordon's assessment, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin "ought to be very happy with the way this is turning out."
  • "He can only view his efforts as successful," Coats said.
  • The Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined Axios' invitation to comment on Coats' comments.

Go deeper: Woodward book: Former intel chief Dan Coats believed "Putin had something on Trump"

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