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Schiff asks intel officials to brief House panel on election security threats

Schiff asks intel officials to brief House panel on election security threats
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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Trump pardons Flynn | Lawmakers lash out at decision | Pentagon nixes Thanksgiving dining hall meals due to COVID-19 Democratic impeachment leaders blast Trump's pardon of Flynn Trump pardons Michael Flynn MORE (D-Calif.) on Friday formally requested that senior officials within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) brief the House panel on election security threats later this month.

The request to participate in the classified briefing came days after Director of National Intelligence John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeProfiles in cowardice: Trump's Senate enablers Biden considering King for director of national intelligence: report Haspel not in attendance at latest Trump intelligence briefing: reports MORE announced that ODNI would no longer conduct in-person congressional election security briefings and would instead submit written assessments.

Schiff requested that William Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, along with Intelligence Community Threats Executive Shelby Pierson and other ODNI officials who previously briefed Congress on election security concerns participate in a Sept. 17 classified House Intelligence briefing.

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The House chairman wrote that the briefing would focus on “election security, foreign malign influence, and election interference,” with Schiff noting that he "expects" Evanina and Pierson to participate.

The chairman also sent the request for a briefing to other agencies that have participated in classified election security briefings in February and July, including the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency, Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and their Office of Intelligence and Analysis.

ODNI did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment on the requested briefing.

Democrats including Schiff have criticized Ratcliffe for suspending the in-person briefings, with Schiff and House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiObama chief economist says Democrats should accept smaller coronavirus relief package if necessary The five biggest challenges facing President-elect Biden Democrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? MORE (D-Calif.) saying in a joint statement last week that the decision constituted a “shocking abdication” of ODNI’s “lawful responsibility to keep the Congress currently informed.”

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioVoters elected a record number of Black women to Congress this year — none were Republican Biden's Cabinet a battleground for future GOP White House hopefuls The Memo: GOP mulls its future after Trump MORE (R-Fla.) put out a statement earlier this week noting that Ratcliffe had promised to continue providing in-person briefings to the Senate panel on election security, but emphasizing that “congressional oversight of intelligence activities now faces a historic crisis.”

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Ratcliffe said during an appearance on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” earlier this week that he made the decision to suspend the in-person briefings following “leaks” of information from past briefings.

“I reiterated to Congress, look, I'm going to keep you fully and currently informed, as required by the law,” Ratcliffe said. “But I also said, we're not going to do a repeat of what happened a month ago, when I did more than what was required, at the request of Congress, to brief not just the Oversight committees but every member of Congress.”

Ratcliffe’s criticism of leaking information stemmed from leading Democrats putting out public statements accusing the ODNI of portraying Russian election interference as equal to those from China and Iran, with Democrats alleging that previous classified briefings portrayed Russia as the worst offender.

Evanina published an assessment last month that warned that Russian actors were interfering in the 2020 presidential election in favor of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rages against '60 Minutes' for interview with Krebs Cornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Pa. lawmaker was informed of positive coronavirus test while meeting with Trump: report MORE, while Chinese and Iranian actors were interfering in favor of former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump rages against '60 Minutes' for interview with Krebs Cornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Five things to know about Georgia's Senate runoffs MORE.

ABC News published a report from Homeland Security on Thursday that assessed that Russian media and other groups were intentionally “amplifying” existing public concerns around mail-in voting to interfere in the election.

The report was on top of a second bulletin from the agency, which ABC News reported had been withheld since July, that outlined evidence Russian actors are also working to enhance concerns around Biden’s mental health.

Schiff and Pelosi last week noted that in light of mounting foreign threats to elections, the in-person briefings must continue.

“We expect the Administration and the Intelligence Community to keep us fully and accurately informed, and resume the briefings,” Schiff and Pelosi said in their joint statement. “If they are unwilling to, we will consider the full range of tools available to the House to compel compliance.”