Dem slams intel chief over classified response on Trump's Chinese election meddling claims

Dem slams intel chief over classified response on Trump's Chinese election meddling claims
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Energy: California, 23 other states sue Trump over vehicle emissions rule | Climate strike protests hit cities across globe | Interior watchdog expands scope of FOIA investigation | Dems accuse officials of burying climate reports Microsoft to provide free updates for voting systems running Windows 7 through 2020 Interior watchdog investigating political appointees' review of FOIA requests MORE (D-Ore.) went after Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsTrump has named more ex-lobbyists to Cabinet in 3 years than Obama, Bush did in full terms: report Hillicon Valley: FCC approves Nexstar-Tribune merger | Top Democrat seeks answers on security of biometric data | 2020 Democrats take on Chinese IP theft | How Google, Facebook probes are testing century-old antitrust laws Congress should defy Dan Coats' last request on phone surveillance MORE on Wednesday after Coats delivered an entirely classified response when asked for evidence on President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE’s claims that China is interfering in the midterm elections.

Wyden, along with fellow Democratic Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisTrump reignites court fight with Ninth Circuit pick MSNBC Climate Change Forum draws 1.3M viewers in 8 pm timeslot Iowa Steak Fry to draw record crowds for Democrats MORE (Calif.) and Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichSenate panel advances Trump's nominees to lead Air Force, Army Overnight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine Democrats grill Army, Air Force nominees on military funding for border wall MORE (N.M.), have sent two letters to Coats over the past month requesting that he provide intelligence backing up Trump’s claims of Chinese election meddling.

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Coats responded to the senators on Wednesday, but the letter was fully classified.

Wyden said in a statement that Coats “has an obligation to the American people to provide a public response to our questions, particularly since this is about America's elections and the security of our democracy.”

“If the president is making public statements about intelligence issues, there's no excuse for the DNI to hide under his desk,” the senator said.

“I'm not asking for every word of the letter to be declassified,” Wyden continued. “But at the very least, the DNI should say publicly whether or not the president's statements are consistent with the government's intelligence assessments.”

The Hill has reached out to the Office of the Director for National Intelligence (ODNI) for comment.

Wyden, Harris and Heinrich first sent a letter to the intelligence chief on Oct. 4 asking that he publicly say whether Trump’s claims of Chinese election interference are in line with U.S. intelligence and to “release as much relevant detail and supporting intelligence as possible.”

The same group of senators sent a second letter last week, asking if Trump’s assertion during an interview with “60 Minutes” that China “meddled” in the 2016 election was in line with the intelligence community’s findings.

Trump first claimed without evidence last month that China was interfering in the 2018 midterms, saying it was "because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade." He has since repeated the claim.

China has disputed the allegation.

Other officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenKirstjen Nielsen drops out of Atlantic Media event after liberal backlash Pence taps former DHS spokeswoman as his new press secretary DHS officials called lawmaker visit to migrant detention facility a 'Hill stunt' MORE, have since said that there is no evidence of a foreign adversary trying to interfere with U.S. election infrastructure.

Still, ODNI, the FBI and the departments of Homeland Security and Justice said in a joint statement earlier this month that there are "ongoing" influence campaigns by countries like China, Russia and Iran ahead of the midterm elections.