National Security

Trump pushing to declassify document disputing intel findings on Russia: report

President Trump and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe have moved to declassify a document that counters the intelligence finding that Russia attempted to get Trump elected in 2016, Reuters reported Thursday.

Three U.S. government officials told Reuters that the president and his intelligence chief have advocated for the document’s release. 

But two officials said their calls for declassification have been met with opposition from within the intelligence agencies, with some objecting that such a release would be too close to Election Day.

Ratcliffe in an Oct. 15 letter to the inspector general for intelligence obtained by Reuters said he wanted to declassify the document after House Intelligence Committee ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) called for it.

“I have requested that the document undergo a formal declassification review in response to a request” from Nunes, Ratcliffe said. 

His letter also mentioned that Republicans had asked for the declassification of the information in 2018 when the GOP held the House.

A former intelligence official familiar with the issue told Reuters that the CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA) were attempting to prevent the document’s declassification “because it would damage national security assets and jeopardize sources and methods.”

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Hill. The NSA deferred questions to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

One of the officials told Reuters that the director of national intelligence sought to release the information on Thursday night around the time of the final debate between the president and Democratic nominee Joe Biden. But another officer told the outlet this was unlikely to happen.

Ratcliffe last month sent to Senate Republicans unverified Russian intelligence that also countered the 2017 intelligence community and Senate Intelligence Committee conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to benefit Trump. Democrats panned that release as pushing disinformation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusions about Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. Trump accepted the Russian leader’s public denial when the pair appeared together at a press conference in Helsinki in 2018.

Reuters noted that the director of national intelligence, who previously defended Trump during his impeachment inquiry last year, committed to be “apolitical” when he was nominated to his current role.

Tags 2016 election CIA Devin Nunes Donald Trump Intelligence Joe Biden John Ratcliffe National Security Agency ODNI Russian interference Russian interference in 2016 election Vladimir Putin

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