Schiff blasts Trump for making ‘false claims’ about Russia intel: ‘You’ve betrayed America. Again’
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on Sunday denounced President Trump for spreading “false claims” about intelligence officials’ warnings that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election to help the president and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Speaking with reporters outside the White House earlier that day, Trump said he was never told about an intelligence briefing Sanders received about Moscow’s efforts to assist his candidacy in the Democratic primary. Sanders acknowledged that he’d received a briefing just a day after The Washington Post and The New York Times reported that intel officials told House lawmakers that Russia had a preference for Trump in 2020.
“I read where Russia is helping Bernie Sanders. Nobody said it to me at all. Nobody briefed that to me at all,” Trump said, suggesting that “Schiff and his group leaked it to the papers. They ought to investigate Schiff for leaking that information.”
Schiff, who became a top Trump target after taking a lead role in the House impeachment inquiry, shot back at the president just hours later, tweeting that his false claims “fool no one.”
“You welcomed Russian help in 2016, tried to coerce Ukraine’s help in 2019, and won’t protect our elections in 2020,” Schiff wrote.
Nice deflection, Mr. President. But your false claims fool no one.
You welcomed Russian help in 2016, tried to coerce Ukraine’s help in 2019, and won’t protect our elections in 2020.
Now you fired your intel chief for briefing Congress about it.
You’ve betrayed America. Again. https://t.co/WlMDaz8stF
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) February 23, 2020
“Now you fired your intel chief for briefing Congress about it,” he added, referencing Trump’s decision to oust acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire and replace him with Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany. Grenell is expected to fill the role on a temporary basis until a permanent director is appointed and confirmed.
Maguire was expected to be nominated to be the permanent intelligence chief, though Trump reportedly soured on him after a senior official briefed Congress about Russian election interference. He reportedly claimed that Maguire’s staff had shown disloyalty by speaking to Congress about the issue.
The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to benefit Trump and harm Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Many top officials, including former special counsel Robert Mueller and FBI Director Chris Wray, have indicated that Russia has continued its efforts to interfere in U.S. election in the ensuing years.
Trump, meanwhile, has dismissed the new reports as a “misinformation campaign” launched by Democrats. National security adviser Robert O’Brien echoed that sentiment on Sunday, saying on ABC that he’s seen no intelligence that suggests Russia is looking to aid Trump.
Shelby Pierson, an aide to Maguire, offered the intelligence about Russia’s preference for Trump during a briefing with the House Intelligence Committee. Sanders and the House Intelligence Committee were also reportedly briefed about Russia’s efforts related to his campaign. There is no evidence to suggest that Schiff leaked the information.
“Let’s be clear, the Russians want to undermine American democracy by dividing us up and, unlike the current president, I stand firmly against their efforts, and any other foreign power that wants to interfere in our election,” Sanders said in a statement Friday while addressing the issue.