The Washington Post Editorial Board Warns the Director of National Intelligence Is Providing Cover for Putin’s Attacks on Our 2020 Election

by on September 3, 2020 · 2 comments

in Election

The Director of National Intelligence Is Providing Cover for Putin

By Editorial Board, The Washington Post / September 3, 2020

After the intelligence community briefed members of Congress in late July about threats to the upcoming election, Democrats expressed alarm about what they had learned — and about the fact that the information had not been shared with the American public. “The warning lights are flashing red. America’s elections are under attack,” wrote Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) in a Post op-ed, without disclosing any specifics.

The Democrats’ pressure resulted in the issuance of a carefully worded Aug. 7 statement by William Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, saying that Russia was once again seeking to interfere in a presidential election, using “a range of measures” to “undermine former Vice President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party.”

Mr. Blumenthal said that statement “only hints at the threats,” which, he added, “are chilling.” He and other Democrats called for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to declassify what is known about Russia’s activities so voters can be aware of them. Instead, over the weekend the blind loyalist whom Mr. Trump installed this year as director of national intelligence, former Republican congressman John Ratcliffe, dispatched a letter to Congress announcing his intention to curtail briefings between now and the election.

Mr. Ratcliffe said that “to ensure clarity and consistency,” ODNI would meet its legal obligation to report to Congress “through written finished intelligence products” rather than live briefings, which allow legislators to ask follow-up questions. While he later told Fox News that congressional intelligence committees would still be briefed, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam B. Schiff said the ODNI had canceled live briefings it had planned for mid-September.

Mr. Ratcliffe and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said the change in policy was a reaction to leaks by members of Congress. But the only “leak” was the simple fact that the administration was withholding critical information about Russia’s interference — which, of course, is intended to help President Trump win reelection.

In effect, Mr. Ratcliffe is providing cover for Vladimir Putin’s influence operation. If Americans are not aware of precisely what Moscow is doing to sow misinformation, they are more likely to be swayed by it. Congress could subpoena Mr. Ratcliffe to publicly testify about the ongoing operation, and it should. But the Trump administration demonstrated during the impeachment proceedings that it will defy subpoenas. Mr. Trump, who has spoken to Mr. Putin frequently by phone this year — including at least three times since May — showed in 2016 that he will do whatever he can to facilitate and exploit Russia’s interference. Some might call that collusion.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie September 3, 2020 at 12:29 pm

This is quite an extraordinary warning – Americans need to take heed. Meanwhile, the stock market just fell nearly 1,000 points today.

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Avatar Ken Hall September 7, 2020 at 10:22 pm

Russian interference to undermine mail-in voting and sow chaos is happening right in front of our noses. It is documented and undisputed by the intelligence community, but Trump welcomes it, now aided and abetted by Ratcliffe and Barr. The silence of Senate Republicans in the face of this true threat to our democracy is a disgrace.

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