Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday blocked an election security briefing from taking place due to his frustration with Republican plans to move forward with replacing deceased Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Acting Senate Intelligence Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on the Senate floor in Washington asked for unanimous consent that the committee’s scheduled briefing with National Counterintelligence and Security Center Bill Evanina be allowed to take place.
Unanimous consent requests avoid a full vote but can be blocked by a single senator.
Schumer blocked the request.
“Reserving the right to object because the Senate Republicans have no respect for the institution, we won’t have business as usual here in the Senate. I object,” he said.
Rubio responded by saying the meeting with Evanina would not take place because of Schumer’s objection.
Election security is a priority of many senators, Rubio said.
“We are scheduled to have the director of National Intelligence tomorrow to discuss that, and many more topics of great importance that I know a lot of people here have been saying we need to be having briefings over. And I hope that, if in fact, the Democratic leader intends to object to that, that we should know that today as well, I hope so that the members will know that and make arrangements accordingly,” he added.
Schumer’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Other Republicans on the committee criticized the top Democrat in the Senate for the move.
“It’s disappointing to see Sen. Schumer prevent our committee from conducting vital oversight of our intelligence community. After the FBI’s gross mishandling of the investigation into the 2016 election, counterintelligence reform is bipartisan, timely, and relevant,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said in a statement.
“Just a few weeks ago Democrats were demanding intel briefings. Now, Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is putting partisan politics ahead of secure elections. We know that Vladimir Putin and Chairman Xi are looking to sow more distrust and chaos in America as we turn towards the ballot box. Schumer’s tantrum is short-sighted and despicable,” added Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.).
Evanina announced in July that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence had been giving election security briefings to members of Congress, political committees, and presidential campaigns.
But John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, said the next month that in-person briefings would be scaled back because of leaks.
“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,” Ratcliffe said, referring to a congressional briefing.
Top Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), objected to the scaling back, calling it “a politicized effort to withhold election-related information from Congress and the American people at the precise moment that greater transparency and accountability is required.”