Tuesday, September 22, 2020
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GOP senator dismisses national intelligence director election security briefings: ‘This is blown way out of proportion’ | TheHill

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSunday shows preview: Protests continue over shooting of Blake; coronavirus legislation talks remain at impasse Engel announces contempt proceedings against Pompeo Democratic senator: Violence in Wisconsin ‘not advancing the cause of racial justice’ MORE (R-Wisc.) dismissed concerns raised by Democrats over the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) cancelling all election security briefings for Congress. 

Johnson said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the cancelation of the briefings is being “blown way out of proportion.”

The senator said he can “count on one or two fingers” the amount of information in the briefings that are classified. 

He underscored his comments by stating that the briefings will now be given in a written form. 

Asked if he agrees that Russia is trying to destabilize the upcoming U.S. election, Johnson said “they always have and always will.” 

House Intelligence Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffWarner calls Intelligence chief’s decision to scale down congressional election security briefings ‘outrageous’ Pelosi, Schiff pan director of national intelligence for canceling election security briefings Intelligence chief shifts election security briefings to written updates MORE (D-Calif.) and House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiRubio says congressional oversight of intelligence faces ‘historic crisis’ following DNI announcement Warner calls Intelligence chief’s decision to scale down congressional election security briefings ‘outrageous’ Pelosi, Schiff pan director of national intelligence for canceling election security briefings MORE (D-Calif.) panned the ODNI on Saturday for cancelling the congressional briefings on election security. 

In an interview following Johnson’s on CNN, Schiff raised concerns regarding written reports over the briefings noting that officials can “hide behind” documents. 

“You can state in a written report things that are not correct and [you’re] not subject to questioning about it,” Schiff said. 

CNN’s Dana BashDana BashRepublicans’ convention turns the race in Trump’s favor Trump suggests some states may ‘pay nothing’ as part of unemployment plan White House officials, Democrats spar over legality, substance of executive orders MORE asked Schiff if he thinks the Trump administration is trying to protect Russia over the decision to cancel the briefings. 

“No,” Schiff responded. President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump to visit Kenosha on Tuesday amid unrest Warner calls Intelligence chief’s decision to scale down congressional election security briefings ‘outrageous’ Katyusha rocket lands in Baghdad ‘Green Zone’: report MORE‘s motivation is, as always, solely about himself. It’s to get himself reelected.”

Schiff said Trump doesn’t want Congress or the American people to know if the Russians are helping the president win the White House again. 

Trump has repeatedly denied claims that Russia intervened to help his 2016 election, calling it a “hoax.”

Schiff said it is possible he would subpoena intelligence officials but the ultimate decision on that would be up to Pelosi. 

“This intelligence paid for by taxpayers doesn’t belong to Trump, it doesn’t belong to intelligence agencies. It belongs to the American people,” he said.

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