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August 29, 2020

King Outraged by DNI’s Move to Cease Congressional Briefings on Election Threats

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Office of U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) released the following statement from Senator King, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, on the Office of the Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe’s announcement that it will no longer brief Congress on election security issues. Instead, the top intelligence office will provide written updates.

“The idea that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence would stop briefing Congress on foreign threats to our elections is an outrage, full stop.

America’s election – indeed, our foundation of Democracy itself – is under threat as we face weaponized disinformation from global foes around the planet.  To stifle and limit the American peoples’ awareness of this fact cannot be explained – or allowed.  In his Senate testimony, DNI Director John Ratcliffe alleged that protecting election integrity was going to be a priority; I call on him to stand by those words and disavow these reported plans to short circuit one of the most important roles of his office.

The Director’s stated intention to only provide the Congress written updates is flatly insufficient. I have never been at a Congressional hearing where members’ questions failed to elicit important information not contained in pre-filed written testimony, and this includes our recent hearing with the Director on this very subject. The only way we can effectively defend ourselves from foreign interference with our elections is for the public to be informed of these activities in real time. Anything less is a dereliction of our duty to the American people.

It’s important to note how we got here and what we know on a consensus level free of politics.  On a bipartisan basis, the Intelligence Committee found rampant, harmful interference in the 2016 election, our Committee’s report last week confirmed this threat and laid the stakes for this year.  I welcomed the recent openness from the National Counterintelligence and Security Center to share its analysis and threat assessments surrounding this year’s election.  It seemed to demonstrate that we all realize we are in this together, and that the only chance to minimize damage done is through more information, not less. 

The Intelligence Community’s mission is to do incredibly exhaustive, frequently dangerous collection and analysis and present their findings to decision-makers.  But every four years, the decision-makers that the Intelligence Community serve are the American voters who must be fully informed, without sacrificing sources or methods.

I call on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to condemn this dangerous decision. My hope in the coming days is that Director Ratcliffe will reconsider, but given the track record from the current administration, I am not optimistic.”

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