• Tue. Oct 27th, 2020

US election 2020: Intelligence chief ends face-to-face security meetings


Nancy Pelosi Image copyright EPA
Image caption Nancy Pelosi has been angered by the move

The top US intelligence office is to stop face-to-face briefings for lawmakers on election security and foreign interference, citing concerns about leaks of sensitive information.

It will issue written reports instead.

Democrats reacted angrily, accusing the office of abdicating its responsibility to keep Congress informed.

They have accused the Trump administration of downplaying threats to US elections from Russia and other countries.

The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and the Democratic head of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, said the public had the right to know how foreign powers were trying to subvert American democracy.

In practice the move means Congress will have less opportunity to question officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

Intelligence chief ‘tired’ of leaks

The ODNI told the House and Senate Select Committees on Intelligence that in-person meetings on election security would now be replaced by written briefs.

ODNI officials are reportedly concerned over leaks that have happened from previous briefings.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe

President Trump told reporters that Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe “got tired of” information leaking.

“So, he wants to do it in a different form because you have leakers on the committee, obviously, leakers that are doing bad things, probably not even legal to leak, but we’ll look into that separately,” he said.

In a statement, Mrs Pelosi and Mr Schiff accused the office of betraying the people’s right to information on attempts at foreign election interference.

“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,” they said in a statement.

In a tweet, Mr Schiff said: “Trump doesn’t want the American people to know about Russia’s efforts to aid his re-election”.

Just three weeks ago Mr Ratcliffe’s office said Russia, China and Iran were all trying to influence the outcome of the November vote.