GOP senator dismisses national intelligence director election security briefings: ‘This is blown way out of proportion’
Sen. Ron Johnson (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 Schiff (D-Calif.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (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 Bash asked Schiff if he thinks the Trump administration is trying to protect Russia over the decision to cancel the briefings.
“No,” Schiff responded. “President Trump’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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