Cybersecurity

Trump criticizes congressional election security briefings over Schiff’s involvement

President Trump on Tuesday said people shouldn’t “expect too much” at the congressional election security briefings scheduled for later in the day because House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) was involved in organizing them.

“There is another Russia, Russia, Russia meeting today,” Trump tweeted “It is headed up by corrupt politician Adam “Shifty” Schiff, so I wouldn’t expect too much!,” tagging acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf in the tweet. 

Members of the House and Senate are set to receive separate classified briefings on the state of election security from top administration officials on Tuesday afternoon. 

Schiff, who was one of the key players in the impeachment inquiry into Trump, pushed back against the president, tweeting that Trump was incorrect “as usual.”

“Mr. President, you are wrong. As usual,” Schiff tweeted. “Today’s briefing for all House Members focuses on the threat of foreign interference in our election. The briefers are agency heads and senior officials. They are your own people. We will insist on the truth, whether you like it or not.”

The briefings were scheduled following reports in February that Russian agents were already interfering in the 2020 elections in order to favor both Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

The information about interference in the Trump campaign stemmed from a briefing given to the House Intelligence Committee, including Schiff, by top officials at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). 

According to The New York Times, former acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph Maguire stepped down as DNI after Trump found out about the briefing, taking extreme issue with Schiff’s involvement. 

Richard Grenell was named acting DNI following Maguire’s departure. His office tweeted on Tuesday that despite some media reports, Grenell would not be participating in the congressional briefings.

“FBI and DHS are the lead in charge of securing our elections, and the IC [intelligence community] is participating in today’s briefings in support of that mission,” the ODNI tweeted. “The IC is focused on detecting and countering foreign election-related threats.”

The agency announced that ODNI would instead be represented during the briefings by William Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center.

Despite Trump’s pushback against the briefings, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) heavily encouraged senators to attend. 

“I encourage all my Senate colleagues to attend today’s briefing on election security,” McConnell tweeted Tuesday. “A subject this serious demands some bipartisanship and unity. Let’s keep the focus on fighting against foreign interference, not fighting each other.”

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) asked if that meant the Senate would vote on long-stalled election security bills. 

“Senator Mitch McConnell: Does this mean you’ll stop blocking election security bills and actually let the Senate vote to protect our elections?” Schumer tweeted

Republicans have repeatedly blocked passage of election security bills over the past year, citing concerns around federalizing elections. The House passed three major election security and voting reform bills in 2019, but all three are stalled in the Senate. 

Both chambers of Congress received election security briefings from top administration officials in July, with Republicans emerging expressing confidence in the security of the 2020 elections. 

During these briefings, former DNI Daniel Coats, former acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan, and FBI Director Christopher Wray were among the officials that presented to Congress. Wray is expected to be involved in Tuesday’s briefings.

Tags Adam Schiff Bernie Sanders Chad Wolf Charles Schumer Christopher Wray Chuck Schumer Donald Trump Joseph Maguire Mitch McConnell
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