Intelligence Agencies Refuse to Brief House Intelligence Committee on Russian Hacking

Susan Jones | December 15, 2016 | 8:25am EST
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Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP File Photo)

( - 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.

Although the Obama administration alerted Americans to Russian attempts to interfere in the U.S. election in October, a full month before the election, the hacking of Democrats' emails didn't become a big deal until Donald Trump's surprise victory on Nov. 8.

In the weeks since then, news reports have said not only did the Russians hack and leak Democrats' emails, but they did so to help Donald Trump win.

On Thursday, NBC News reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin "became personally involved in the covert Russian campaign to interfere in the U.S. presidential election."

The Obama White House on Wednesday went so far as to suggest that Republican Donald Trump had inside information about Russian hacking well before the Nov. 8 election.

­­­"There is ample evidence that was known long before the election, and in most cases long before October, about the Trump campaign and Russia -- everything from the Republican nominee himself calling on Russia to hack his opponent," Obama spokesman Josh Earnest said on Wednesday.

"It might be an indication that he was obviously aware and concluded, based on whatever facts or sources he was -- he had available to him, that Russia was involved. And their involvement was having a negative impact on his opponent's campaign. That's why he was encouraging them to keep doing it."

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