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 WydenHillicon Valley: Simulated cyberattack success | New bill for election security funding | Amazon could be liable for defective products Markets rise as economy struggles; 'It does not make sense' Election security advocates see strong ally in Harris MORE (D-Ore.) went after Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsTrump flails as audience dwindles and ratings plummet America's divide widens: Ignore it no longer Trump gives Grenell his Cabinet chair after he steps down MORE on Wednesday after Coats delivered an entirely classified response when asked for evidence on President TrumpDonald John TrumpUPS, FedEx shut down calls to handle mail-in ballots, warn of 'significant' problems: report Controversial GOP Georgia candidate attempts to distance from QAnon Trump orders TikTok parent company to sell US assets within 90 days MORE’s claims that China is interfering in the midterm elections.

Wyden, along with fellow Democratic Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisOn The Money: Economists flabbergasted after Congress leaves with no deal | Markets rise as the economy struggles | Retail sales slow in July Trump touts NYC police union endorsement: 'Pro-cop all the way' USPS workers union endorses Biden, citing threat to postal service 'survival' MORE (Calif.) and Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Watchdog report raises new questions for top Interior lawyer | Senate Democrats ask Trump to withdraw controversial public lands nominee | Border wall water use threatens endangered species, environmentalists say Senate Democrats ask Trump to withdraw controversial public lands nominee Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic 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 NielsenSchumer calls for Wolf, Cuccinelli to step down after watchdog says their appointments violate law Government watchdog finds top Trump DHS officials are ineligible for their positions Trump's acting ICE chief to leave post 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.