The announcement this weekend that the Director of National Intelligence will no longer provide in-person briefings about election security to members of the congressional intelligence committees came and went without generating the quantity of outrage that it truly deserves.
Senator Angus King (I-ME) is doing his best to change that, saying today that the sudden move “looks like a pre-cover-up.”
“I can’t get into the head of these people, but we have a president who never likes to hear the word ‘Russia,’ at least not in the context of the relationships or of Russia meddling in our elections,” Senator King told CNN.
“I hate to say this but it looks like a pre-cover-up. It looks like they don’t want to share the information, they’re covering up information,” he continued. “I don’t know what they have or don’t have, but it looks like they’re trying to keep this information from the public so when everybody goes to vote on Nov. 3, they won’t know the extent to which they’ve been attempted to be influenced by the Russians or some other country.”
Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe has said that the in-person briefings will cease for now to prevent leaks of classified material, although since he will continue to deliver a written intelligence briefing, it’s uncertain how the lack of an opportunity for legislators to directly question intelligence officials about their findings will prevent further leaks of secret information.
“I reiterated to Congress, look, I’m going to keep you fully and currently informed, as required by the law,” Ratcliffe told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo yesterday. “But I also said, we’re not going to do a repeat of what happened a month ago, when I did more than what was required, at the request of Congress, to brief not just the Oversight Committees, but every member of Congress.”
Other legislators besides Senator King have condemned Ratcliffe’s decision, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) issuing a joint statement denouncing the move.
“This intelligence belongs to the American people, not the agencies which are its custodian. And the American people have both the right and the need to know that another nation, Russia, is trying to help decide who their president should be,” the statement from Pelosi and Schiff said.
With Trump already calling the election rigged before a single vote is cast and indications that Russia is already repeating its electoral interference on levels equal to or beyond how they meddled in 2016, American voters have to stay aware that much of the divisive propaganda on social media sites may actually originate from sources linked to the Kremlin with an agenda of re-electing Donald Trump.
Now that this “pre-coverup,” as Senator King calls it, is already in place, the only way to ensure that the election results won’t be corrupted by Russian trickery is to turn out in such massive numbers that it delivers the presidency to Joe Biden in an unprecedented landslide that can’t be denied.
Original reporting by Zack Budryk at The Hill.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.