Trump’s director of national intelligence John Ratcliffe DELAYS report on foreign interference in election and ‘battles analysts to beef up its criticism of China’
- Pre-election intel warnings cited threats from Russia, China, and Iran
- U.S. intel concluded Russia interfered in 2016 elections
- Recent discovery of massive Russia hack of U.S. agencies
- Trump-loyalist intel director holding up the classified report to Congress
- Wants China to get more prominent citations
- Trump railed against ‘China virus’ during campaign
- Reportedly wants special counsel to probe Hunter Biden China ties
Trump loyalist Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe is holding up a mandated report to Congress on election interference – and wants to place a greater emphasis on China.
Amid the dispute over what to include, Ratcliffe is blowing past a Friday deadline, as intelligence agents comb over intel gleaned after the election.
The spat, first reported by Bloomberg News, revisits a pre-election tug of war over whether to stress Russian election interference – following Kremlin-backed interference in the 2016 elections, and threats from China.
It also comes as President Trump continues to claim the election was ‘rigged’ against him – despite the Electoral College meeting to make Joe Biden’s win official and the Supreme Court declining to take up a challenge brought by the Texas attorney general.
Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe has ordered delay past a statutory deadline for providing Congress a classified report on foreign election interference
The DNI’s office confirmed the delay past a statutory deadline Wednesday night.
‘This afternoon the DNI was notified by career intelligence officials that the Intelligence Community will not meet the December 18 deadline, set by Executive Order and Congress, to submit the IC’s classified assessment on foreign threats to the 2020 U.S. elections,’ Assistant DNI for Strategic Communications Amanda Schoch told Fox News.
‘The IC has received relevant reporting since the election and a number of agencies have not finished coordinating on the product,’ she said. ‘The DNI is committed to providing this report to our customers expeditiously, referring to the Congress and others who get its intelligence products.
In the months before the election, a series of top officals stressed the China threat. Although FBI Director Chris Wray, who Trump is reportedly considering firing despite warnings from White House lawyers, warned that Russia had been ‘very active’ in seeking to denigrate now President-elect Joe Biden.
Wray accused Russia of seeking to sow ‘divisiveness and discord.’
President Trump has blamed China for the coronavirus and during the campaign repeatedly brought up Hunter Biden’s China business ties
Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at the podium during the unveiling of the Communist Party’s new Politburo Standing Committee at the Great Hall of the People on October 25, 2017 in Beijing, China. A pre-election assessment found that China preferred Joe Biden and found Trump unpredictable
A pre-election assessment stated that China preferred Biden over the more unpredictable Trump, who ended up in a divisive trade war in Beijing during his tenure.
‘We assess that China prefers that President Trump — whom Beijing sees as unpredictable — does not win reelection. China has been expanding its influence efforts ahead of November 2020 to shape the policy environment in the United States, pressure political figures it views as opposed to China’s interests, and deflect and counter criticism of China,’ top election security intelligence figure Bill Evanina said.
After Wray’s House testimony this summer, Trump blasted his FBI Director on Twitter. He said China ‘is a FAR greater threat than Russia, Russia, Russia.’
It is unclear what impact the assessment would have in the final weeks of the administration given Trump’s public push for the intelligence to skew towards Beijing.
Ratcliffe, a former House member, was a loyal Trump defender during impeachment, succeeding former DNI Dan Coats.
Bob Woodward’s book Rage, revealed weeks before the election, indicated Coats believed Russian President Vladimir Putin had dirt on Trump.
Coats ‘continued to harbor the secret belief, one that had grown rather than lessened, although unsupported by intelligence proof, that [Vladimir Putin had something on Trump,’ according to the book. ‘How else to explain the president’s behavior?’ Woodward wrote. ‘Coats could see no other explanation.’
A hack traced to Russia and revealed days ago went after a series of U.S. government agencies including the Treasury and Commerce Departments, with unknown infiltration still being examined. Cybersecurity experts are pointing to Russia’s SVR, a foreign intelligence agency.