After Complaints, Trump Administration Agrees To In-Person Election Threat Briefings
The Senate and House intelligence committees say they expect top national security officials to once again provide in-person briefings on potential threats to the November election.
The director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, caused a stir last month when he said his office would no longer provide face-to-face briefings to Congress. He said the sensitive information was routinely leaked to the media.
Ratcliffe, a staunch supporter of President Trump, said he would keep Congress updated through written reports.
Democrats objected, saying this could allow the Trump administration to downplay or cover-up any intelligence that suggested Russia or other countries were interfering with the election in a bid to help Trump. Some Republicans also complained about Ratcliffe's move.
However, congressional leaders, including the top figures on the Senate and House intelligence committees, met with Ratcliffe on Wednesday and said he agreed to resume in-person briefings to the committees.
The acting chairman of the Senate committee, Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, and the top Democrat on the panel, Mark Warner of Virginia, said in a joint statement that the committee would receive "briefings, including in-person, on all oversight topics — including election matters."
Rubio told reporters he expected such a briefing next week.
On the House side, Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, issued a similar statement and said he was working with Ratcliffe's office to set up a briefing.
Meanwhile, Ratcliffe put out his own statement reiterating that his office would not hold in-person meetings for the full House or Senate, but would provide them with written intelligence reports.
The intelligence community and private tech companies have already announced that Russia is again trying to interfere in the election, as it did in 2016. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in August that the Russians favor Trump's reelection. And Microsoft said last week that Russian military intelligence, the GRU, was attempting to hack campaign emails, as well as political parties, political consultants and think tanks.
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