Thursday, December 15, 2016

Intelligence Officials Refuse to Brief House Intel Committee on Russian Hacking

House Republicans on the Intelligence Committee are crying foul after the FBI, CIA and National Intelligence directors refused to brief them on the Russian cyber attacks that occurred during the presidential campaign. The Washington Postreported on Friday that according to anonymous sources, the CIA had determined that Russia interfered in the election with the purpose of helping Trump's campaign.
According to members of the House Intelligence Committee, that was the first time they had heard that analysis, even though intel officials had been briefing the panel on Russian cyber attacks for many months.
In an effort to fulfill his committee's oversight responsibilities, Chairman Devin Nunes requested that National Intelligence Director James Clapper, along with FBI Director James Comey and CIA Director John Brennan, brief committee members in a closed session on Thursday. Nunes was not pleased Wednesday when the briefing had to be cancelled due to their refusal to appear.
Via US News:
The California Republican, in a letter sent to Clapper on Monday, said he wanted clarification about why the CIA is now saying that Russian hacks of political campaign committees earlier this year appeared to be aimed at helping President-elect Donald Trump and hurting Democrat Hillary Clinton. Nunes pointed to testimony from Clapper in a public hearing in November that the Intelligence Community lacked the evidence to draw such a conclusion.
"It is unacceptable that the Intelligence Community directors would not fulfill the House Intelligence Committee’s request to be briefed tomorrow on the cyber-attacks that occurred during the presidential campaign," Nunes said in a statement released Wednesday night. "The legislative branch is constitutionally vested with oversight responsibility of executive branch agencies, which are obligated to comply with our requests."
However, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said that "senior administration officials have regularly provided extensive, detailed classified and unclassified briefings to members and staff from both parties on Capitol Hill since this past summer and have continued to do so after Election Day."
"Last week, the President ordered a full Intelligence Community review of foreign efforts to influence recent presidential elections — from 2008 to present," the director's office said in a statement Wednesday. "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. We will not offer any comment until the review is complete."
Some members of the intelligence community [IC] have been selectively leaking comments to the media, however.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY), a permanent member of the Select Committee on Intelligence,  appeared on Fox News' the Kelly File, Wednesday night, to talk about the situation -- which he called "absolutely disgraceful."
King said members of the IC had been telling his committee for months that there was no proof that the Russians were trying to help Donald Trump.
"All we've heard from the intelligence community over the last several months is they could not say that there was any attempt to undermine Hillary Clinton, to help Donald Trump. The consensus was, 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, and it's the intelligence community that's doing it!" he thundered.
The congressman reiterated that the IC had told the Intel Committee previously that they couldn't prove that there was an attempt to favor one candidate over the other.
King noted that Director James Clapper had even said publicly on November 17that the IC "lacked strong evidence connecting Russian government Cyber-attacks and Wikileaks disclosures."
He continued: "And now, we have this -- as far as I know, there is no decision by the CIA, there is no consensus opinion, and yet we find it in the New York Times, the New York Post and the House Committee on Intelligence was told nothing about this. And yet it's our committee -- it's Devin Nunes -- who has jurisdiction over the CIA and all the intelligence agencies. 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 Unite States. 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," the agitated congressman said.
Megyn Kelly asked King if the Washington Post story Friday was the first time's he'd heard that Russia was trying to help Trump.
"Yeah," King replied, "and they have time to leak it to the Washington Post and the New York Times, but they don't have time to come to congress --  and its the house Committee on Intelligence that has the absolute jurisdiction over the CIA and the Intelligence Community."
Asked what kind of game he thinks the IC is playing, King said, "I don't think there is any conclusion that they [the Russians] were attempting to favor Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. Who is the CIA? When they say the CIA has made this conclusion is that Brennan? Who? ...There is no finding, there is no assessment that we've seen. If they have something, they have an obligation to show it to us. Maybe there is none. This could be a whole house of cards. I see it as some kind of disinformation  to discredit our the incoming president-elect and that's absolutely disgraceful," King exclaimed.
"If something so dramatic happened between November 17 and this week to change their assessment, didn't they have the obligation to come before the congress and tell us that?" King asked. He pointed out that no one from the intelligence agencies are on the record to make the claims. "If it is true, they're leaking it, and that's a crime. If someone is making it up, that's also wrong. This stinks. It's wrong," he concluded.

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