Face-to-face briefings to lawmakers on matters such as foreign interference and election security are to be replaced with written briefings from the top US intelligence officials. The official reason for this change is concern about information from face-to-face briefings being leaked to the press.
Democrats including Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff have reacted angrily to the plans and have accused the top intelligence office of neglecting its responsibility to keep Congress informed. They have also accused the Trump administration of attempting to downplay the threat that Russia and other countries pose to the upcoming election. Mr. Schiff tweeted his opinion that the change was made because President Trump did not want the American public to find out that Russia was trying to get him re-elected.
This change also means that officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) will not have to face questioning from Congress as often as they did before.
When the change was announced by President Trump, he told reporters that Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe was ‘tired’ of information from briefings being leaked. The President also suggested that further action would be taken against anyone who was found to be responsible for these leaks.
The change in briefings comes just three weeks after Mr. Ratcliffe’s office expressed concern that Russia, Iran, and China were all trying to influence the election result. Democrats have argued that the public has a right to know about any attempts by a foreign power to try and exert influence over the election.