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 Defense: Families sue over safety hazards at Army base | Lawmakers, NBA's Enes Kanter speak out ahead of Erdoğan visit | Washington braces for public impeachment hearings Federal court rules baseless searches of travelers' devices unconstitutional NBA's Enes Kanter speaks out against Erdoğan ahead of White House visit MORE (D-Ore.) went after Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsThis week: Democrats churn toward next phase of impeachment fight 281 lobbyists have worked in Trump administration: report Former intelligence chief Coats rejoins law firm MORE on Wednesday after Coats delivered an entirely classified response when asked for evidence on President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump faces high stakes in meeting with Erdoğan amid impeachment drama Democrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report MORE’s claims that China is interfering in the midterm elections.

Wyden, along with fellow Democratic Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisOutsider candidates outpoll insider candidates Poll: Buttigieg leads Democratic field in Iowa Press: Another billionaire need not apply MORE (Calif.) and Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichSenate reviews Interior, FERC nominees criticized on ethics This week: House to vote on Turkey sanctions bill Hillicon Valley: Facebook launches 'News Tab' | Senate passes bill to take on 'deepfakes' | Schumer outlines vision for electric cars 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 NielsenDivided Supreme Court leans toward allowing Trump to end DACA Five things to watch at Supreme Court's DACA hearings This week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry 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.