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Dems blast Trump for 'conflating' Chinese, Russian election interference claims

Dems blast Trump for 'conflating' Chinese, Russian election interference claims
© Moriah Ratner

A group of top House Democrats on Wednesday blasted President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichael Cohen: I pray Michelle Obama's words will unite country again Michelle Obama: ‘I stopped even trying to smile’ during Trump’s inauguration Trump wants to end federal relief money for Puerto Rico: report MORE for "conflating" allegations of election interference, stating that a new intelligence assessment does not support his claims that China has attempted to meddle in U.S. elections.

Five Democrats, who are committee ranking members, said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provided their respective committees with an unclassified intelligence assessment on election security last week, which they say does not support Trump or Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceHow President Trump won last night Trump asks Pence during press conference to be on 2020 ticket Facebook delays political ad transparency requirements in UK MORE's claims about China's interference efforts.

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“No amount of foreign interference in our elections is acceptable. However, conflating the interference by Russian and Chinese actors is irresponsible and demonstrates the White House’s partisan approach to the unprecedented Russian actions to undermine our democracy," the lawmakers wrote. 

"It is reprehensible that two years after the 2016 elections, President Trump and Republicans in Congress have failed to tackle Russian election interference with any credibility.”

Reps. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonDems projected to retake House majority Hillicon Valley: Russia-linked hackers hit Eastern European companies | Twitter shares data on influence campaigns | Dems blast Trump over China interference claims | Saudi crisis tests Silicon Valley | Apple to let customers download their data Dems blast Trump for 'conflating' Chinese, Russian election interference claims MORE (D-Miss.), Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsHouse Dems preview plans to flex oversight muscles Top House Dems on investigative committees endorse Pelosi for Speaker Top Oversight Dem: I won't be issuing subpoenas like 'candy on Halloween' MORE (D-Md.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithDivided Congress to clash over Space Force, nuclear arsenal Dem-led House can return sanity to nuclear weapons debate Overnight Defense: Marine commandant condemns California shooting suspect | Smith running for Armed Services gavel | Army secretary says troops 'getting training' on border MORE (D-Wash.) and Robert Brady (D-Penn.) — who sit on the House Homeland Security, Oversight and Government Reform, Judiciary, Armed Services, and Administration committees respectively — all signed onto a statement that said nothing in the DHS assessment convinces them otherwise that the administration's "statements on this issue are driven by partisan politics rather than the facts."

A spokesperson for DHS described Democrats' statement as "disappointing," stating that the assessment does not provide the whole picture.

“It is disappointing that some Members of Congress are choosing to politicize intelligence and have apparently failed to read important information transmitted to them," DHS press secretary Tyler Houlton said in a statement to The Hill. "While this was a single unclassified analytic product and does not represent all reporting on the issue, it quite clearly and directly discussed both Chinese and Russian threats."

Houlton said DHS will "continue to provide appropriate notifications to Congress on the subject," but emphasized that the lawmakers should take the information "seriously" rather than making them into "partisan talking points."

The Democrats' statement comes after Trump has doubled down in recent weeks about his Chinese election interference claims.

“Regrettably, we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election,” Trump said during a speech at a United Nations Security Council meeting in New York last month. “They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade.”

And while critics quickly pointed out that there is no evidence of China engaging in a hacking and disinformation campaign against the U.S. like Russia did in 2016, Trump doubled down on his claims that China “is a bigger problem” in terms of election interference than Russia during an interview on CBS's "60 Minutes" earlier this week.

Pence has also backed the president on this claim, stating that Russia's efforts to interfere in U.S. elections “pales in comparison” with that of the Chinese, which he described as “an unprecedented effort to influence public opinion.”