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John Ratcliffe says he has filed ‘crimes reports’ over leaks of classified intelligence

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Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe says he has made multiple “crimes reports” related to leaks of classified information.

Ratcliffe, a former Texas congressman who has overseen the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies since May, also defended his decision to shift election security briefings from in-person to in writing over concerns about leaks and politicization during an interview with Maria Bartiromo on Sunday Morning Futures on Fox News.

“There are investigations” into potentially illegal leaks and that “I know that because I’ve made a number of what are called crimes reports in connection since I’ve been the DNI,” Ratcliffe said. “When I become aware of intelligence community information that is disclosed unlawfully, I do what’s called a crimes report — I’ve done that now on a number of occasions, and so those investigations are moving forward.”

The “timing of any prosecutions,” he said, “would be something that the FBI would have to address, and I think that they will down the road.”

Ratcliffe made the revelations in the context of defending his decision on how the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will brief members of Congress on the election meddling threats going forward.

“I’m going to continue to keep the promises that I made, and I’m going to continue to follow the law and continue to keep Congress informed” but arguing that there has been “a pandemic of information being leaked out of the intelligence community — and I’m going to take the measures to make sure that that stops,” Ratcliffe said.

“When I went through confirmation, people watched that — they heard me make a couple promises. One of them was to always follow the law. The other was that I would do everything I could to protect the unauthorized disclosure of classified information, allowing people to leak it for political purposes,” Ratcliffe said. “The action that I announced yesterday is entirely consistent with that. I reiterated to Congress, look, I’m going to keep you fully and currently informed, as required by the law, but I also said we’re not going to do a repeat of what happened a month ago. When I did more than what was required, at the request of Congress to brief not just the oversight committees but every member of Congress. When I did that, Maria, I said my only condition is that you treat this information with the respect that it deserves and you keep it private, and yet within minutes of that one of those briefings ending, a number of members of Congress went to a number of different publications, and leaked classified information, again, for political purposes, to create a narrative that simply isn’t true, that somehow Russia is a greater national security threat than China.”

Bill Evanina, who leads the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, released a more detailed intelligence assessment in early August warning that Russia is actively trying to “denigrate” Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. The same statement also said China “prefers” that President Trump not win reelection and is “expanding its influence efforts ahead of November 2020.” The counterintelligence official also said Iran “seeks to undermine” Trump’s presidency.

A letter from Ratcliffe to congressional leaders, made public on Saturday, stated that “in order to ensure clarity and consistency across the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s engagements with Congress on elections, the ODNI will primarily meet its obligation to keep Congress fully and currently informed leading into the Presidential election through written finished intelligence products.”

Democrats have roundly condemned Ratcliffe’s decision, warning of a dangerous lack of transparency less than 70 days before Election Day.

“This is a shocking abdication of its lawful responsibility to keep the Congress currently informed, and a betrayal of the public’s right to know how foreign powers are trying to subvert our democracy,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said in a joint statement.

“This is shameful and — coming only weeks before the election — demonstrates that the Trump Administration is engaged in 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,” the duo added.

Biden also released a statement that criticized the decision to do away with briefings.

“For the DNI to curtail one of the most basic duties of our nonpartisan Intelligence Community — to keep the United States Congress fully informed about threats to our nation, in this case, about the real and rising threat of foreign election interference — is nothing less than a shameless partisan manipulation to protect the personal interests of President Trump,” he said.

Richard Grenell, who was acting director of national intelligence before Ratcliffe was confirmed to the role, argued that partial leaks to achieve political ends have been a consistent problem.

“I think that he’s reading exactly the problem and trying to find the solution. When I was there for a short time, I had career intelligence officials come to me and say, ‘I don’t really want to brief Congress anymore, because they manipulate my words, they manipulate and leak out partial information, and they’re ruining my career.’ This happened on more than one occasion. Now, think about that — career intelligence officials are saying they don’t want to brief the Hill because the Hill and Congress is politicizing their work,” he said on Sunday Morning Futures.

“Divulging access to classified information in order to employ it as a political weapon is not only an abuse, it is a serious federal crime with potentially severe consequences on our national security,” Acting Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Marco Rubio said Saturday, adding, “Yet, this grotesque criminal misconduct does not release the intelligence community from fulfilling its legal requirements to respond to Congressional oversight committees and to keep members of Congress fully informed of relevant information on a timely basis. I have spoken to the Director Radcliffe who stated unequivocally that he will continue to fulfill these obligations.”

At a Hurricane Laura roundtable in Texas on Saturday, Trump talked about how information Ratcliffe previously brought to the House Intelligence Community got leaked to the media.

“Director Ratcliffe brought information into the committee, and the information leaked. Whether it was ‘Shifty Schiff’ or somebody else, they leaked the information before it gets in, and what’s even worse — they leaked the wrong information. And he got tired of it. So, he wants to do it in a different form because you have leakers on the committee,” the president Trump.

Schiff denied being a leaker on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. “I haven’t. My staff hasn’t. I can’t speak for what all the members of the committee have done or not done, including a lot of the Republican members,” the California Democrat said.

 

 

 

 

 

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