New York Times
Intelligence officials told lawmakers behind closed doors on Tuesday that Russia was not directly supporting any candidates as it tried to interfere in the presidential race, an assertion that contradicted an earlier briefing and prompted accusations from Democrats that the Trump administration was politicizing intelligence.
“The I.C. has not concluded that the Kremlin is directly aiding any candidate’s re-election or any other candidates’ election,” an unclassified summary given to lawmakers said, using shorthand for the intelligence community. “Nor have we concluded that the Russians will definitely choose to try to do so in 2020.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi challenged the officials during the first of two briefings on Tuesday, saying their assertions differed from a classified hearing last month where a top election security official discussed Russia’s preference for President Trump’s re-election, according to three people present for Tuesday’s session. The previous briefing drew angry responses from House Republicans. […]
But for Democrats, Tuesday’s presentation was the clearest evidence so far of the effect of Richard Grenell, a Trump loyalist who took over last month as acting director of national intelligence.
Before the day’s briefings, Kashyap Patel, a former White House and congressional aide who moved to Mr. Grenell’s office last month, met with intelligence officials and imposed limits on what they could tell Congress about foreign influence operations, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Patel’s comments struck some intelligence officials as an inappropriate politicization of the briefing. Some have been wary of his partisan background since his arrival as a top aide to Mr. Grenell. Mr. Patel was once a top investigator for Representative Devin Nunes, Republican of California and former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and played a key role in helping Republicans try to undermine the Russia investigation by writing a memo that accused law enforcement officials of abusing their power.
March 10, 2020