House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Sunday it is possible the House could issue subpoenas to federal intelligence officials to testify on alleged election interference, coming after Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe told members of Congress that he won’t deliver in-person briefings on election interference because of rampant leaks to the press.
Schiff said on Sunday that “I can’t speak for what decision ultimately we’ll make. That’s a decision that will have to go to the speaker,” referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Schiff served as the lead House impeachment manager and has frequently accused President Donald Trump of colluding with Russia to secure the 2016 election.
“This intelligence paid for by taxpayers doesn’t belong to Donald Trump, it doesn’t belong to the intelligence agencies, it belongs to the American people. The agencies are merely the custodians of that information,” the California Democrat told CNN.
“And the American people ought to know what Russia is doing, they ought to know their president is unwilling to stand up to Vladimir Putin,” Schiff said. “And that information belongs to the American people, it doesn’t belong to Donald Trump.”
Ratcliffe told Fox News that he has to end the in-person briefings because of frequent leaks to the media.
“Within minutes of one of those briefings ending, a number of members of Congress went to a number of different outlets and leaked classified information for political purposes,” he said.
Ratcliffe said that Russia also isn’t a “greater national security threat than China.”
“I don’t mean to minimize Russia. They are a serious national security threat, but day in, day out, the threats that we face from China are significantly greater,” Ratcliffe said. “Anyone who says otherwise is just politicizing intelligence for their own narrative.”
Last month, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a report that found China is actively attempting to undermine the November elections along with Russia and Iran. However, the report, which was released by the head of U.S. counterintelligence, William Evanina, found that China is currently the No. 1 threat.
“Beijing recognizes its efforts might affect the presidential race,” Evanina said last month. “But tactically, the U.S. approach would be more predictable, and Biden is much smoother to deal with than Trump—a viewpoint that is shared by many countries,” it said.
Pelosi and Schiff on Saturday also said Ratcliffe’s move is a “shocking abdication of its lawful responsibility to keep the Congress currently informed.”
Schiff and Pelosi called the administration’s move a “shocking abdication of its lawful responsibility to keep the Congress currently informed,” while Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Ratcliffe “has made clear he’s in the job only to protect Trump from democracy, not democracy from Trump.”
But when asked about a claim Democrats have leaked information to the press, Ratcliffe said, “We’re going to protect information from being leaked for political purposes. It’s happened too much and I won’t stand for it.”
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told CNN that Ratcliffe’s move is “being blown so way out of proportion.”