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Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AFP via Getty Images.

Top Democrats in a letter on Tuesday demanded that Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe resume in-person congressional briefings on election security, which he abruptly halted last week, citing leaks of classified material.

Why it matters: Democrats, outraged over Ratcliffe's suspension of the briefings less than three months before the election, threatened to "consider the full range of tools available to compel compliance," which would likely include a subpoena and the withholding of funds to the top intelligence chief's office.

Context: Ratcliffe's decision came less than a month after the National Counterintelligence and Security Center said Russia is actively "using a range of measures" to "denigrate former Vice President Biden" before the November election.

  • The center's director, William Evanina, added that Kremlin-linked actors are actively supporting President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television, while others are spreading false claims about corruption to undermine Biden and the Democratic Party.

What they're saying: "Your abrupt decision to cancel previously scheduled election-related briefings ... is an abdication of your responsibility to keep the American people and their elected representatives informed of foreign threats to the 2020 election," wrote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) with House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.), the chairman of an appropriations subcommittee.

  • "It is more troubling as it comes only weeks before the American people begin casting votes within weeks of the Intelligence Community affirming publicly that our elections and American voters are once again the target of foreign interference," they added.
  • "Only through regular and in-depth briefings can Members of Congress ... hear directly from our career intelligence professionals, probe and scrutinize underlying reporting and basis for intelligence assessments, learn what steps the United States is taking to thwart foreign interference, and ensure that the intelligence judgments are not being influenced or skewed for political purposes."

The other side: Ratcliffe defended his decision on Fox News Sunday, accusing members of Congress of leaking classified information "for political purposes, to create a narrative that simply isn’t true, that somehow Russia is a greater national security threat than China."

Go deeper: Read the full letter.

Go deeper

Axios Investigates

Exclusive: Suspected Chinese spy targeted California politicians

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A suspected Chinese intelligence operative developed extensive ties with local and national politicians, including a U.S. congressman, in what U.S. officials believe was a political intelligence operation run by China’s main civilian spy agency between 2011 and 2015, Axios found in a yearlong investigation.

Why it matters: The alleged operation offers a rare window into how Beijing has tried to gain access to and influence U.S. political circles.

Updated 50 mins ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.