ODNI Says Report on Foreign Threats During 2020 Election Delayed

December 16, 2020 Updated: December 17, 2020

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) announced late Wednesday that Director John Ratcliffe has been notified that the intelligence community will not be meeting the Dec. 18 deadline set by an executive order to report on foreign threats during the November election as “agencies have not finished coordinating on the product.”

“This afternoon the DNI was notified by career intelligence officials that the Intelligence Community will not meet the Dec. 18 deadline, set by executive order and Congress to submit the IC’s classified assessment on foreign threats to the 2020 U.S. elections,” Amanda Schoch, a spokeswoman for the office, said in a statement.

The office confirmed that the upcoming report includes information about “relevant” foreign threats from the recent election.

“The IC has received relevant reporting since the election and a number of agencies have not finished coordinating on the product,” Schoch said, adding that Ratcliffe remains committed to an expeditious release of the report.

Dec. 18 marks 45 days after the Nov. 3 general election, when, according to Trump’s executive order in 2018, the DNI was expected to deliver a report regarding “to the maximum extent ascertainable” whether any interference attempts took place, and the nature of such interference, methods used, and who was involved and authorized such efforts.

The order also directs the U.S. government to impose automatic sanctions on foreign nations, individuals, and entities who are found to be involved in trying to interfere in U.S. elections.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told The Epoch Times on Tuesday that she wasn’t aware of any report stemming from the order. The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment about the ODNI’s announcement.

Richard Grenell, the former acting director of national intelligence, wrote on Twitter just prior to the announcement that Ratcliffe “is standing up for career analysts who want their views to be accurately reflected.”

“In other words, fighting to keep intelligence from being politicized,” he added.

Grenell shared a report which said, citing an anonymous source, that Ratcliffe was not signing off on the report unless it more fully reflected the national security threat posed by China’s attempts to influence the outcome of the 2020 election. “John Ratcliffe has access to the most sensitive intel. This is important,” Grenell said.

Richard Grenell
Richard Grenell at Tegel airport in Berlin on May 31, 2019. (Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images)

The ODNI did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times.

Earlier this year, Ratcliffe said that the biggest threat to election security in the United States is the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

“China poses a greater national security threat to the U.S. than any other nation—economically, militarily, and technologically. That includes threats of election influence and interference,” Ratcliffe said.

The intelligence official said Beijing was concerned that President Donald Trump will win reelection, adding that the intelligence community has briefed “hundreds of members of Congress” to raise their concerns about China “and its increased efforts to impact the U.S. policy climate in its favor.”

Ratcliffe told CBS earlier this month that there was foreign election interference by China, Iran, and Russia in November 2020.

“China is an economic threat and a technological threat. And that’s something that the United States hasn’t had to deal with before,” he said.

The ODNI’s National Counterintelligence and Security Center said in August that China preferred Trump not win reelection.

Ratcliffe has repeatedly identified China as an overall national security threat. He penned an op-ed on Dec. 3 in The Wall Street Journal, saying that “the People’s Republic of China poses the greatest threat to America today, and the greatest threat to democracy and freedom worldwide since World War II.”

Trump boards Air Force One
President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Dec. 12, 2020. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

Executive Order 13848

The order, signed by Trump in Sept. 12, 2018, stipulates that after an assessment is delivered on potential election interference, the attorney general, and the secretary of homeland security would have another 45 days to evaluate the report and make a determination. If election interference is found by the two departments, automatic sanctions would be imposed to restrict the property of the persons involved.

The secretary of state and the secretary of the treasury would thereafter be required to recommend whether additional sanctions are required.

Trump in the order declared a national emergency to deal with the threat of election interference, and stated that “the ability of persons located, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States to interfere in or undermine public confidence in United States elections, including through the unauthorized accessing of election and campaign infrastructure or the covert distribution of propaganda and disinformation, constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

“Although there has been no evidence of a foreign power altering the outcome or vote tabulation in any United States election, foreign powers have historically sought to exploit America’s free and open political system,” Trump wrote. “In recent years, the proliferation of digital devices and Internet-based communications has created significant vulnerabilities and magnified the scope and intensity of the threat of foreign interference, as illustrated in the 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment.”

Bowen Xiao, Zachary Stieber, and Melanie Sun contributed to this report.

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