Schiff accuses Barr of lying about China election threat

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff to subpoena top DHS official, alleges whistleblower deposition is being stonewalled Schiff claims DHS is blocking whistleblower's access to records before testimony GOP lawmakers distance themselves from Trump comments on transfer of power MORE (D-Calif.) on Sunday accused Attorney General William BarrBill BarrFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Why a backdoor to encrypted data is detrimental to cybersecurity and data integrity FBI official who worked with Mueller raised doubts about Russia investigation MORE of lying when he said China posed the greatest threat to U.S. elections this year. 

"That’s just a plain false statement by the attorney general, a flat-out false statement," Schiff said in an interview with CNN. "What Bill Barr just did in that statement was just flat-out mislead the American people." 

The comments from Schiff came just days after Barr was asked about U.S. intelligence noting that Russia, China and Iran are seeking to interfere in the 2020 elections. Asked whose meddling efforts were the most aggressive, Barr said the intelligence he'd seen showed it was China. However, he said he could not divulge details regarding that conclusion. 

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Schiff rejected Barr's remarks, saying it was "such a disservice to the country that we can't trust our own attorney general."

"But apparently Bill Barr is willing to do anything or say anything to help Donald Trump," he said. 

Asked whether he was accusing Barr of lying, the California congressman said that is "basically what he's doing."

"I hesitate to say that, but that is the reality," he said, pointing to statements from a top U.S. intelligence official about the differences between Russia and China's interference efforts. "Bill Barr isn’t going to itemize the intelligence because it’s just a flat-out false statement." 

The Justice Department did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill. 

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The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia actively worked to interfere in the 2016 election to harm Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBloomberg rolls out M ad buy to boost Biden in Florida Hillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close Trump pledges to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, designate KKK a terrorist group in pitch to Black voters MORE's candidacy and boost President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE

William Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, warned earlier this year that Russia was deploying similar efforts to spread disinformation to undermine the 2020 elections and weaken U.S. institutions.

Evanina said in July that China's efforts were focused on shaping "the policy environment” in the U.S., with the understanding that it could also impact the 2020 elections. He added in August that the country prefers Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenFormer Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick Bloomberg rolls out M ad buy to boost Biden in Florida MORE because it views Trump as unpredictable. 

He also noted Russia's interference efforts were focused primarily on denigrating the former vice president. 

Barr's comments about China were echoed by National Security Adviser Robert O'BrienRobert O'BrienCIA letting less intelligence on Russia reach Trump: report Lincoln Project places anti-Trump ads in military newspapers Top Senate Democrat asks for documents related to Trump's ties to Erdoğan MORE last week. The official said the administration knew China had “the most massive program to influence the United States politically," though he did not offer details.