Intel agencies reject request for House committee briefing, citing larger probe

Intel agencies reject request for House committee briefing, citing larger probe
© Greg Nash

The Intelligence Community (IC) is refusing to provide the House Intelligence Committee with a requested Thursday briefing on Russian interference with the U.S. election, citing an ongoing review of the matter requested by President Obama.

According to a statement, the IC will not be offering comment to Congress until it completes that review, which will cover foreign interference in the electoral process since 2008. 

"Once the review is complete in the coming weeks, the Intelligence Community stands ready to brief Congress — and will make those findings available to the public consistent with protecting intelligence sources and methods," the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) said in a statement. 

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Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) had asked the FBI, NSA, Office of the Director of National Intelligence and CIA to meet with committee members on Thursday, and called their refusal "unacceptable."

The briefing was not requested to be at the director level, meaning that National Intelligence Director James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan and their counterparts were not expected to attend.

“It is unacceptable that the Intelligence Community directors would not fulfill the House Intelligence Committee’s request to be briefed tomorrow on the cyber-attacks that occurred during the presidential campaign,” Nunes said in a statement Wednesday.

“The Committee is deeply concerned that intransigence in sharing intelligence with Congress can enable the manipulation of intelligence for political purposes. The Committee will continue its efforts and will insist that we receive all the necessary cooperation from the relevant leaders of the Intelligence Community.”

The ask came following a Monday letter from Nunes to Clapper demanding he resolve reported discrepancies between the FBI's and CIA's assessments of the Russian hacking.

A Friday story in The Washington Post reported that the CIA believes hacks into the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations were an explicit attempt by the Russian government to help Donald Trump attain the White House — an assessment the FBI reportedly did not believe was supported by the evidence.

The report sparked calls for congressional investigations from both sides of the aisle. 

“The Committee is vigorously looking into reports of cyber-attacks during the election campaign, and in particular we want to clarify press reports that the CIA has a new assessment that it has not shared with us,” Nunes said in his statement.

“The legislative branch is constitutionally vested with oversight responsibility of executive branch agencies, which are obligated to comply with our requests.” 

Lawmakers are still wrangling over what form that probe should take and who should conduct it, although Republican leadership has sought to contain the investigations to the Intelligence Committee.

Nunes said Monday that any additional probes into the hacking would be duplicative of current committee efforts.

--Updated 10:07 p.m.