– and are rebuked by GOP congressman for ‘disgraceful’ move
Members of the House Intelligence Committee are fuming that the CIA is refusing to provide an immediate briefing on Russian interference in the U.S. elections, after media reports that the intent of hacking was to boost President-elect Donald Trump’s chances.
The panel had hoped to hold a briefing with the CIA Thursday, although the agency is declining to participate, prompting panel member Rep. Peter King of Long Island to suggest U.S. intelligence could be perpetuating a ‘disinformation campaign’ designed to undermine Trump as he prepares to take office.
- The House Intelligence Committee had planned a Thursday briefing with CIA officials about Russian-backed hacking in the U.S. election
- The CIA declined to provide a briefer, citing its ongoing work on the review President Obama has requested on the topic
- Panel chairman is ‘deeply concerned’ about potential manipulation of intelligence for ‘political purposes’
- Representative Peter King of Long Island called it ‘absolutely disgraceful’ that the CIA won’t come in, and asked whether there was a ‘disinformation campaign’ going on
- The Agency says it stands ‘ready to brief’ once the Obama review ‘is complete’
The infighting is coming out into the open amid reports of hardening conclusions about Russian government motives and chain of command – with NBC reporting Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin was ‘personally involved’ in the covert campaign to interfere with the elections through hacks of the Democratic National Committee and other political figures.
‘This violates all protocols and it’s almost as if people in the intelligence community are carrying out a disinformation campaign against the president-elect of the United States,’ fumed King in an appearance on ‘The Kelly File’ on Fox News Wednesday night.
‘It’s absolutely disgraceful and if they’re not doing it, then it must be someone in the House or the Senate who’s leaking false information and there should be a full investigation of this.’
King said information the intelligence had put out publicly and privately before the elections indicated it wasn’t entirely clear why Russia was meddling in the elections, although The Washington Post reported late last week that the CIA has concluded the purpose was to help Trump.
‘Somebody has the time to leak it to the Washington Post and the New York Times, but they don’t have the time to come to Congress,’ King vented. ‘It’s their job to come. They don’t have any choice. They have to come in, especially when they have created this.’
On the subject of a Russian campaign to help Trump, King said: ‘There was nothing at all, ever told to us, in fact they said they couldn’t prove it, that there was an attempt to favor one candidate over the other. [James] Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said that publicly on Nov. 17.’
House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes complained about the CIA’s failure to send a briefer, after seeking a briefing by the end of the week.
‘It is unacceptable that the Intelligence Community directors would not fulfill the House Intelligence Committee’s request to be briefed tomorrow on the cyber-attacks that occurred during the presidential campaign,’ he said in a statement Wednesday.
‘The Committee is deeply concerned that intransigence in sharing intelligence with Congress can enable the manipulation of intelligence for political purposes.’
Asked for comment about the charges, the CIA responded with an ‘Intelligence Community Statement on Review of Foreign Influence on U.S. Elections.’
‘Senior Administration Officials have regularly provided extensive, detailed classified and unclassified briefings to members and staff from both parties on Capitol Hill since this past summer and have continued to do so after Election Day,’ according to the statement.
‘Last week, the President ordered a full Intelligence Community review of foreign efforts to influence recent Presidential elections – from 2008 to present,’ the statement continued. ‘Once the review is complete in the coming weeks, the Intelligence Community stands ready to brief Congress—and will make those findings available to the public consistent with protecting intelligence sources and methods. We will not offer any comment until the review is complete.’
Nunes has written Director of National Intelligence James Clapper seeking clarification.
‘On November 17, 2016 you told the Committee during an open hearing that the intelligence community lacked strong evidence connecting Russian government Cyber-attacks and Wikileaks disclosures,’ he wrote, referencing hacked materials posted on the leak site before the elections.
Fox News reported there is pressure on the intelligence community to declassify as much of its findings as possible before Trump’s January 20 inauguration.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers has called for a special investigation of Russian interference in the elections. Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has called for the Senate Intelligence Committee to conduct an inquiry.
Source: Daily Mail