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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 WydenSenate Democrats negotiating changes to coronavirus bill No. 2 Senate Democrat shoots down overruling parliamentarian on minimum wage Progressives push White House to overturn wage ruling MORE (D-Ore.) went after Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsHow President Biden can hit a home run Former Trump intel chief Coats introduces Biden nominee Haines at hearing Senate Intelligence Committee leaders warn of Chinese threats to national security MORE on Wednesday after Coats delivered an entirely classified response when asked for evidence on President TrumpDonald TrumpProsecutors focus Trump Organization probe on company's financial officer: report WHO official says it's 'premature' to think pandemic will be over by end of year Romney released from hospital after fall over the weekend MORE’s claims that China is interfering in the midterm elections.

Wyden, along with fellow Democratic Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris pushes for support for cities in coronavirus relief package This week: Senate takes up coronavirus relief after minimum wage setback Brown vows Democrats will 'find a way' to raise minimum wage MORE (Calif.) and Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichUSPS adding up to 165K fuel efficient or electric delivery vehicles Democrats propose executive actions on electric vehicle acquisitions New rule shakes up Senate Armed Services subcommittees 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 NielsenLeft-leaning group to track which companies hire former top Trump aides Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' House Republican condemns anti-Trump celebrities during impeachment hearing 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.