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Intel Chief Ratcliffe Reverses Cancellation of Congressional Briefings after Pushback

Whether it was Shifty Schiff or someone else, you have leakers on the committee who are doing bad things …

(Headline USA) The Trump administration has agreed to provide in-person briefings on threats to the November election to key members of Congress, backing down from a decision last month to provide that information only in writing.

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe announced the change in policy after Democrats apparently leaked sensitive—and incomplete—details from a meeting about foreign election interference.

But Ratcliffe agreed to resume briefings to the Senate and House intelligence committees after pushback.

Ratcliffe met with congressional leadership and the heads of the intelligence committees on Wednesday—a group called the “Gang of Eight” that receives the highest levels of intelligence.

He said he had shared with them his proposal on how the intelligence community will relay election updates in the future.

Reports suggest that the intelligence reports implicated Russia and China both as leading actors in foreign election-interference campaigns.

But Democrat leaks played up one specific aspect of it—a Russian campaign to spread misinformation to some pro-Trump members of Congress—as a way to smear their political opponents across the aisle.

Despite the partisan gamesmanship involving classified materials, committee members said the briefings were more important than ever as the 2020 presidential election approaches.

Acting Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the panel, said in a joint statement Wednesday that Ratcliffe had reaffirmed that the panel will receive “briefings, including in-person, on all oversight topics.”

Rubio told reporters that he expects a briefing next week on election security, though he said he wasn’t sure of the timing.

A person familiar with the briefing said Ratcliffe’s office had accepted an invitation to brief the panel behind closed doors. The person discussed the meeting on condition of anonymity because it has not been publicly announced.

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif., also said in a statement that Ratcliffe’s office had on Wednesday committed to the briefings “after extensive public criticism.”

Schiff said the panel was working to confirm a date and time.

Still, Schiff said, “these briefings for the intelligence committees must not obviate the need to keep all Members and the American people appropriately and accurately informed about the active threats to the November election.”

President Donald Trump and others have publicly speculated that Schiff, who also led the House’s partisan impeachment efforts against Trump, was behind the recent leaks.

“Whether it was Shifty Schiff or someone else, you have leakers on the committee who are doing bad things … and he got tired of it,” Trump said in defense of his recently appointed intel chief.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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