WASHINGTON – The nation’s top intelligence official has informed Congress that his office will no longer give in-person election security briefings on Capitol Hill, a move that raised concern among lawmakers Saturday about the public’s right to know about foreign interference in the upcoming presidential election.
President Donald Trump said National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe made the decision because the administration "got tired” of intelligence about election security leaking from Congress.
“They leaked the information ... and what's even worse, they leaked the wrong information and we got tired of it,” Trump told reporters while attending a briefing on Hurricane Laura in Orange, Texas. He didn't offer details to support his statement.
Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, said the idea that the national intelligence director’s office would stop briefing Congress on foreign threats to the U.S. election is “an outrage” and that written updates were “flatly insufficient.”
“America’s election — indeed, our foundation of democracy itself — is under threat as we face weaponized disinformation from global foes around the planet,” King, a member of the Senate's intelligence committee, said in a lengthy statement. “To stifle and limit the American peoples’ awareness of this fact cannot be explained — or allowed.”
Ratcliffe, who oversees the nation's intelligence agencies, sent formal notification letters Saturday to the Senate and House leadership and the chairmen and ranking members of both chambers' intelligence committees.
In the letter, Ratcliffe wrote: “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.”
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who was with Trump in Texas, said lawmakers will still be sent full written readouts. Meadows said Ratcliffe is going to make sure there are "proper tools for their oversight.”