The decade's most triggering comedy
Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe told Fox Business Sunday morning that he made the controversial decision to scale back national security briefings for key Members of Congress after discovering that unnamed lawmakers had leaked confidential information “within minutes” of receiving it, entirely for political purposes.
“[The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI)] told the House and Senate intelligence committees that it will still provide written briefings, but that they should not expect verbal, in-person briefings on the topic, according to a congressional official and letters dated Aug. 28 that Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe sent to top members of Congress,” according to POLITICO.
Top Democrats, predictably, reacted with shock and outrage, with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) issuing a scathing statement Saturday condemning Ratcliffe’s decision.
“This is a shocking abdication of its lawful responsibility to keep the Congress currently informed, and a betrayal of the public’s right to know how foreign powers are trying to subvert our democracy,” the pair said.
Republican Senators Marco Rubio (FL) and Mark Warner (VA) issued their own statement, excoriating suspected leakers but also encouraging Ratcliffe to return to giving in-person briefings as soon as possible.
POLITICO reported that the ODNI was particularly upset that Democrats leaked information about a classified all-House security briefing last month, in which Pelosi accused Ratcliffe and others of withholding evidence that Russia and other foreign governments were making an effort to interfere in the 2020 presidential election. Pelosi and her staff declined to comment about the meeting on the record, but news agencies had specific details about the exchange that were clearly leaked.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who led investigations into whether Russia interfered with the 2016 elections, claimed Ratcliffe’s decision indicated a White House cover-up.
“They’re going to put it in writing now instead of giving an oral briefing. That doesn’t make any sense unless the goal is not to allow members of Congress, the representatives of the American people, to ask questions,” Schiff said.
On Sunday, Ratcliffe lashed out at unnamed Members of Congress for violating the ODNI’s trust and implied that Democrats were using the leaked information to frame Russia as a primary geopolitical foe, rather than China — a country that has significant ties to Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden.
“Within minutes of one of those briefings ending, a number of members of Congress went to a number of different outlets and leaked classified information for political purposes,” Ratcliffe said Sunday. “To create a narrative that simply isn’t true, that somehow Russia is a greater national security threat than China.”
“I don’t mean to minimize Russia. They are a serious national security threat, but day in, day out, the threats that we face from China are significantly greater,” he added. “Anyone who says otherwise is just politicizing intelligence for their own narrative.”
Democrats, of course, have long suggested that Russia favors President Donald Trump over his Democratic opponents and, despite Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s findings that the Trump campaign and Russian officials did not, in fact, conspire to undermine the 2016 presidential election, have maintained that Russia continues to subvert the American electoral system in Trump’s favor.
Ratcliffe noted that Members of Congress will now receive written briefings and in-person briefings will resume when the ODNI is confident Congress can again be trusted with classified information.