When will the CIA explain its leaked findings?
The House and Senate have become agitated with the CIA as the agency has continued to deny both sectors with briefings or information on claims that Russia hacked into America’s election, but passed information to the mainstream media.
Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) told a radio station in his home state that the CIA just denied his request for a briefing:
“I’m not happy they denied a briefing to me,” the Wisconsin Republican told a public radio interviewer in his home state on Friday morning. “I need information from the administration, and right now they’re withholding it.”
He added in a statement: “It is disappointing that the CIA would provide information on this issue to the Washington Post and NBC but will not provide information to elected members of Congress.”
On December 9, The Washington Post published an article about the CIA assessment. One senior official told the publication “that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected.”
Johnson attended a briefing in September with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, FBI Director James Comey, and White hHouse counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco along with 11 other top lawmakers about possible interference. President Barack Obama wanted his three officials to convince to lawmakers to show “solidarity and bipartisan unity” and sign a statement to urge state officials to accept federal help to protect voting systems:
“They were assuring everybody there was no way Russia could hack our voting machines,” Johnson told Wisconsin Public Radio. “I don’t know what changed from that briefing to this in terms of additional information.”
Earlier this week, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) criticized the intelligence community after they canceled a briefing with the House Intelligence Committee:
“All we’ve heard from the intelligence community over the last several months is that they could not say that there was any attempt to undermine Hillary Clinton [or] to help Donald Trump,” King told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly on “The Kelly File.” “The consensus was that there was an attempt by the Russians to put a cloud over the election, to create disunity. Well, that’s what’s happening right now, but it’s the intelligence community that’s doing it.”
“Somebody has the time to leak it to the Washington Post and the New York Times, but they don’t have the time to come to Congress,” said King, a member of the committee. “It’s their job to come. They don’t have any choice. They have to come in, especially when they have created this.”
Despite what the Post wrote, King said that no lawmakers “received any assessment from the CIA.” He brought up the fact that NSA Director James Clapper said the community “couldn’t prove it, that there was an attempt to favor one candidate over the other.” He continued:
“This violates all protocols and it’s almost as if people in the intelligence community are carrying out a disinformation campaign against the president-elect of the United States,” the congressman added. “It’s absolutely disgraceful and if they’re not doing it, then it must be someone in the House or the Senate who’s leaking false information and there should be a full investigation of this.”
“Ninety-nine percent of the people in the CIA are great,” King concluded. “There’s somebody here, though, that’s behind something that’s totally irresponsible.”
Three sources told Reuters that the intelligence community has briefed congressional leadership on the assessment, but not the full congressional committees, “which is the standard procedure for briefing Congress on sensitive intelligence.” But that has not stopped lawmakers from wanting briefings:
Nevertheless, Representative Devin Nunes, the California Republican who chairs the House Intelligence Committee and is a member of President-elect Trump’s transition team as well as the Gang of Eight, has called for a briefing for his entire committee on the CIA assessment.
“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
Nunes also shared Johnson’s disbelief over Clapper’s sudden change of heart:
Nunes, a member of the Trump transition team’s executive committee, previously had complained to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about the failure of the intelligence community to keep his committee informed.
“I was dismayed that we did not learn earlier, directly from you, about reported conflicting assessments and the CIA’s reported revision of information previously conveyed to this committee,” Nunes wrote Clapper several days ago.
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