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 TrumpDem lawmaker says Electoral College was 'conceived' as way to perpetuate slavery Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals to visit White House on Monday Transportation Dept requests formal audit of Boeing 737 Max certification 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 PencePence travels to Nebraska to survey flood damage Pence traveling to SC for Graham reelection launch The Hill's Morning Report - 2020 Dems grapple with race, gender and privilege 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 ThompsonLawmakers contemplate a tough political sell: Raising their pay Exclusive: Biden to run for White House, says Dem lawmaker Nielsen testifies: Five things you need to know MORE (D-Miss.), Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsHouse Dems renew push for government contractor back pay Cummings demands ex-Fox News reporter share information on Stormy Daniels payments The Hill's Morning Report — Trump readies first veto after latest clash with Senate GOP MORE (D-Md.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithA Weld challenge to Trump would provide Republicans a clear choice House Armed Services chair denounces new limits on transgender service members Overnight Defense: Senate breaks with Trump on Yemen war | Shanahan hit with ethics complaint over Boeing ties | Pentagon rolls out order to implement transgender ban | Dem chair throws cold water on Space Force budget 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.”