Politics

Homeland Security Chair: CIA Not Briefing Us On Russia

| by Robert Fowler

The Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, has accused the CIA of not being forthcoming with lawmakers about their investigation into Russia's alleged efforts to disrupt the 2016 presidential election.

On Dec. 16, Johnson released a statement chiding the CIA for declining to brief him on their evidence that Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential cycle with the express purpose of helping President-elect Donald Trump win.

"I returned to Washington this week and requested the CIA to provide a briefing on Russia's cyber capabilities and its involvement with the U.S. presidential election," Johnson said, according to Morning Consult. "The CIA refused this request."

Johnson then accused the CIA of being more forthcoming with journalistic outlets than to lawmakers, stating that he found it "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."

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The Wisconsin lawmaker was referring to The Washington Post story that revealed the CIA was certain that Russia had hacked and leaked information from Democratic groups to help Trump's campaign and the NBC News story that reported the CIA's certainty that Russian President Vladimir Putin was personally involved in overseeing the leaking of information. Both stories came from sources from within the intelligence agency.

Later that day, Johnson asserted that he was inclined to believe the CIA's assessment even though he had not been given evidence.

"I frankly have not seen the evidence that it was actually Russia," Johnson told CNBC. "I'm assuming that's true. ... We do know, in Eastern Europe and other places, they are spreading disinformation. Their goal is to destabilize regimes and to really get the public in different countries to believe nothing is true."

The House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California, has also blasted the U.S. Intelligence Community for delaying requested briefings on Russian interference in the election, CNN reports.

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"The Committee is deeply concerned that intransigence in sharing intelligence with Congress can enable the manipulation of intelligence for political purposes," Nunes said.

James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, has asserted that agencies such as the CIA are currently absorbed in compiling a report on Russia's role in the election of President Barack Obama, who has ordered a full investigation to be completed before he leaves office.

"Once the review is complete in the coming weeks, the Intelligence Community stands ready to brief Congress and will make those findings available to the public consistent with protecting intelligence sources and methods," Clapper said. "We will not offer any comment until the review is complete."

Sources: CNBC, CNN, Morning Consult / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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