The House Intelligence Committee had to cancel a briefing set on Capitol Hill for Thursday after their request for more information from the CIA and other intelligence agencies was denied.
Chairman of the committee U.S. Rep Devin Nunes released a statement Wednesday night expressing his disdain for the handling of the request by the intelligence agencies.
“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. “The legislative branch is constitutionally vested with oversight responsibility of executive branch agencies, which are obligated to comply with our requests.”
He also added, “The Committee is deeply concerned that intransigence in sharing intelligence with Congress can enable the manipulation of intelligence for political purposes.”
Nunes had initially asked for a private closed session on Thursday with CIA Director John Brennan, FBI Director James Comey, and National Intelligence Director James Clapper. He sent a letter to Clapper on Monday explaining the committee wanted further clarification on recent remarks made to members of the media by unnamed CIA officials purporting they had found that the Russian government influenced the election in favor of President-elect Donald Trump.
In his original request, Nunes brought up Clapper’s public testimony from November when he asserted that the Intelligence Community lacked the evidence to connect the Russian government to the hacked emails or to influencing the election.
He said he would give the intelligence agencies until Friday to address the inconsistencies in the records, and added, “in particular we want to clarify press reports that the CIA has a new assessment that it has not shared with us.”
But the CIA declined the meeting, expressing they were centering the agency’s focus on a full review requested by President Obama. The other agencies did not respond to the committee’s request for a briefing, despite the committee being the most-senior committee with jurisdiction over the matter.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which is responsible for overseeing all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, issued a statement contrasting the representative’s remarks, saying that members of Congress have received “extensive, detailed classified and unclassified briefings … since last summer and have continued to do so after Election Day.”
“Last week, the President ordered a full Intelligence Community review of foreign efforts to influence recent Presidential elections – from 2008 to present,” the statement said. “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.”
Nunes is also a member of Trump’s presidential transition team, serving on the executive committee to help the new president-elect choose his incoming administration.