House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff made a surprising confession in his latest clash against President Donald Trump’s administration.
He said it’s not his fault Democrats are leaking classified documents from the media. As the Democratic Party leader, it wasn’t him leaking secret information to the press — but he “can’t speak” for the rest of his party.
He even suggested that Republicans were secretly leaking the misinformation to the mainstream media during a CNN interview.
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The nation’s top intelligence official informed Congress on Saturday that his office will no longer give in-person election security briefings on Capitol Hill, a move condemned by Democrats.
Trump said National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe made the decision because the administration “got tired” of intelligence about election security leaking from Congress. Instead, he’ll present the intelligence in written form to Congress.
“I haven’t [leaked secret intel]. My staff hasn’t,” Schiff told CNN on Sunday. “I can’t speak for what all the members of the committee have done or not done, including a lot of the Republican members. Look, Dana, leaks are always improper and sometimes they’re illegal — but this is a falsehood, yet another lie by the president.”
Schiff’s response came after Trump named him specifically using one of the president’s nicknames while attending a briefing on Hurrican Laura in Texas.
“Whether it was ‘Shifty Schiff’ or somebody else, they leaked the information … and what’s even worse, they leaked the wrong information and we got tired of it,” Trump told reporters. “So [Ratcliffe] wants to do it in a different form.”
Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, complained that national intelligence director’s office not briefing Congress in-person about the U.S. election is “an outrage” and that written updates were “flatly insufficient.”
Ratcliffe, who oversees the nation’s intelligence agencies, sent formal notification letters Saturday to the Senate and House leadership and the chairmen and ranking members of both chambers’ intelligence committees.
In the letter, Ratcliffe wrote: “I believe this approach helps ensure, to the maximum extent possible, that the information ODNI provides the Congress in support of your oversight responsibilities on elections security, foreign malign influence, and election interference is not misunderstood nor politicized.”
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who was with Trump in Texas, said lawmakers will still be sent full written readouts. Meadows said Ratcliffe is going to make sure there are “proper tools for their oversight.”
Earlier this month, the nation’s counterintelligence chief, William Evanina, issued a statement saying U.S. intelligence officials believe Russia is using various methods to denigrate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and that people linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin are boosting Trump’s reelection bid.
U.S. officials also believe China and Iran both do not want Trump to win a second term and have accelerated criticism and online misinformation of the White House to benefit Biden, Evanina wrote.
On Saturday, Democratic lawmakers criticized Ratcliffe’s decision. Schiff, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, called the decision a “betrayal of the public’s right to know how foreign powers are trying to subvert our democracy.”
An official with the House intelligence committee said the decision was unexpected because Ratcliffe’s office earlier had reached out to schedule an in-person briefing to the committee on Sept. 17. A room on Capitol Hill had already been reserved, according to the official, who did not have permission to speak about the issue publicly and requested anonymity.
The Associated Press contributed to this article