An attempt by Congress to find out more about Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election hit a brick wall last night, when U.S. intelligence agencies refused a request to brief the House intelligence committee today (Thursday) on the cyber-attacks.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the committee chair, was furious: “It is unacceptable that the Intelligence Community directors would not fulfill the House Intelligence Committee’s request to be briefed tomorrow on the cyber-attacks that occurred during the presidential campaign,” Nunes said in a statement.
“The legislative branch is constitutionally vested with oversight responsibility of executive branch agencies, which are obligated to comply with our requests,” Nunes said. “The Committee is vigorously looking into reports of cyber-attacks during the election campaign, and in particular we want to clarify press reports that the CIA has a new assessment that it has not shared with us.
“The Committee is deeply concerned that intransigence in sharing intelligence with Congress can enable the manipulation of intelligence for political purposes,” said Nunes. “The Committee will continue its efforts and will insist that we receive all the necessary cooperation from the relevant leaders of the Intelligence Community.”
In a statement of its own, the U.S. intelligence community — comprised of 17 different agencies — noted that “senior administration officials” have regularly briefed members of Congress and their staff, in both classified and unclassified settings.
It said it would not make any comment until a review ordered by President Obama is complete.
Last week, President Obama ordered a full review of foreign efforts to influence presidential elections, dating back to 2008. Obama expects the review to be complete before he leaves office.
“Once the review is complete in the coming weeks, the Intelligence Community stands ready to brief Congress–and will make those findings available to the public consistent with protecting intelligence sources and methods. We will not offer any comment until the review is complete,” the statement said.