No More In-Person Election Briefings for Congress, Intelligence Chief Says

The directive appears to apply to all intelligence agencies that report to Mr. Ratcliffe, though not necessarily other entities in the Justice Department, Defense Department and Homeland Security Department that are responsible for election security and that also regularly apprise Congress of their work. An official from Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which monitors the security of voting machines, said it would continue to brief Congress.

Still, the distinction may matter little. In May, the Trump administration consolidated election-related congressional briefings under William R. Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, who reports to Mr. Ratcliffe.

That change ensured that a single voice speaks for the sprawling intelligence community, but it also effectively sidelined other agencies and officials like the election czar at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Shelby Pierson, from doing so. Ms. Pierson was appointed to the post last year, but when she briefed House lawmakers that the Russian government preferred that Mr. Trump was re-elected, it prompted widespread anger among Republicans.

During a round table on Saturday in hurricane-stricken Texas, Mr. Trump said it had been necessary to restrict the briefings because of what he called unspecified leaks by Mr. Schiff, whom the president called “shifty Schiff,” and other Democrats on his committee after earlier in-person sessions. But he did not specify what he was referring to or why he would cut off all members of Congress, including Republicans.

“He got tired of it so he wants to do it in a different form, because you have leakers on the committee,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Ratcliffe. Mr. Schiff accused the president of lying in a post on Twitter on Saturday.

Richard Grenell, Mr. Ratcliffe’s predecessor, praised the move on Saturday, saying he had heard from career intelligence officials that they no longer wanted to brief lawmakers, “because the partial information leaks and manipulation of their words were detrimental to their careers.”

Lawmakers saw it differently. The decision by Mr. Ratcliffe, who once received similar briefings as a Republican congressman on the House Intelligence Committee, fanned accusations by Democrats that he had politicized the intelligence community since becoming its director this year.

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