Election Security Intel Briefings to Congress Put on Hold

Amid warnings of Russian election interference, the Director of National Intelligence has canceled in-person briefings to Congress.

What Happened:

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) announced it will no longer deliver in-person briefings to the House and Senate intelligence committees due to concerns of leaked information. ODNI Director, John Ratcliffe, informed both committees that they will receive written updates instead. 

Ratcliffe has yet to provide evidence that written reports are less likely to be leaked than information delivered by oral briefings. This decision comes less than a month after a National Counterintelligence and Security Center report outlined threats of election interference from Russia, China, and Iran. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has denounced the decision as a “betrayal of the public’s right to know how foreign powers are trying to subvert our democracy”. 

Why it Matters:

Protecting Election Integrity

Though Iran and China prefer Trump to lose reelection, their efforts pale in comparison to Russia’s coordinated campaign to denigrate Joe Biden through targeted disinformation

A recent Senate report also provided proof that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia in 2016, further questioning motivations to put a lid on intelligence briefings. 

Acting on Trump’s Behalf

Earlier in 2020, Trump fired former Director of National Intelligence, Joe Maguire, for briefing lawmakers that Russia was already engaged in election interference with the goal of Trump winning. 

John Ratcliffe was confirmed as Director of National Intelligence in May by a narrow 49-44 vote in the Senate. The former Texas Congressman is an outspoken Trump ally who aggressively questioned special counsel Mueller and defended Trump during his impeachment hearings. 

Following Ratcliffe’s briefing decision, Trump tweeted his support and alleged that Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, was “probably” behind any leaks.