The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) ruled out the possibility that electors within the Electoral College will be briefed on the Russian hacking investigation before they meet on Monday.
According to Business Insider:
The agency said an intelligence review that President Barack Obama has requested on potential foreign influence in US presidential elections dating back to 2008 “involves sensitive classified information.” It said the review would be finalized “in the coming weeks” — essentially ruling out any substantive briefing for the electors who are meeting on Monday.
“The Intelligence Community stands ready to brief Congress and will make those findings available to the public consistent with protecting intelligence sources and methods,” the DNI’s statement read.
Inside sources also confirmed to NPR Friday night that voters in the Electoral College will not receive an intelligence briefing about the extent of Russian meddling in the presidential election before the College’s vote on Monday. The announcement comes after fifty-four of the 232 Democratic electors signed a letter organized by Christine Pelosi asking Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for a briefing to determine what role Russian hacking played in Donald Trump’s election.
“Separate from Mr. Trump’s own denials of Russian involvement in the election, the confirmed communication between Trump’s aides and those associated with the Russian election interference activity raise serious concerns that must be addressed before we cast our votes,” the message reads.
The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) all but ruled out the possibility that electors within the Electoral College will be briefed on the Russian hacking investigation before they meet on Monday.
Indeed in the past few days both the CIA and the FBI have confirmed not only that Russian agents interfered in our election, but that the express aim of their plot was to elect Donald Trump. Recent intelligence also suggests that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, whom Trump has praised effusively, was personally involved in the hacking. Moreover, members of Trump’s campaign were in contact during the election with some of the very Russian agents who would have been responsible for any such hacking, raising the possibility of the Trump campaign’s having colluded with a hostile foreign power to win the election.
Without a classified intelligence briefing, however, the crucial questions of whether Trump’s campaign collaborated with the Kremlin and of how much Russia tipped the scales in Trump’s favor will remain unanswered as these men and women make a decision of crucial importance to our nation’s future. The answers to those questions could be crucial in convincing Republican electors to vote against Trump, given that many of them are currently wont to accept Trump’s delusional narrative that all of our nation’s intelligence services are lying.
So far only one Republican elector, Chris Suprun of Texas, has vowed to break his pledged vote and cast his ballot against Trump. However, both Suprun and Harvard Law Professor Larry Lessig, who is leading an anti-Trump campaign, have claimed that as many as 30 Republicans – just shy of the 37 needed – are willing to vote against Trump. While it is not common practice for Electoral College electors to receive an intelligence briefing, the exceptional circumstances of this election would seem to make one more than appropriate. At this point, however, no explanation has been provided for the denial of the electors’ letter. Still, until a transparent explanation of the Russian hacking is provided, it is fair for us, and the members of the Electoral College, to assume the worst given the pro-Putin oligarchs Trump has surrounded himself with.
If it later becomes clear that Russian meddling did indeed alter the outcome of the election, or that Trump’s campaign colluded in the hacking, the Director of National Intelligence will have to answer for his failure to give the electors the information they need to make a truly informed decision.
James DeVinne is a student at American University in Washington, DC majoring in International Service with a focus on the Middle East and South Asia. He is a founding member of Occupy Baltimore and interns at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.