Schiff accuses Barr of lying about China election threat

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on Sunday accused Attorney General William Barr 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. 

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. 

The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia actively worked to interfere in the 2016 election to harm Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and boost President Trump. 

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 Biden 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’Brien 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. 

Tags Adam Schiff Attorney general China Donald Trump election interference Hillary Clinton Intelligence Joe Biden Robert O'Brien Russia William Barr
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