House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on Sunday slammed President Donald Trump for spreading “false claims” about intelligence officials’ warnings that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election to help the president and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“I read where Russia is helping Bernie Sanders. Nobody said it to me at all. Nobody briefed that to me at all,” Trump told reporters outside the White House on Sunday, suggesting that “Schiff and his group leaked it to the papers” and that “They ought to investigate Schiff for leaking that information.”
Schiff, who became a top target of Trump’s after taking a lead role in the House impeachment inquiry, shot back at the president just hours later, tweeting that his false claims “fool no one.”
“You welcomed Russian help in 2016, tried to coerce Ukraine’s help in 2019, and won’t protect our elections in 2020,” Schiff said.
“Now you fired your intel chief for briefing Congress about it,” he added, referencing Trump’s decision to oust acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire and replace him with Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany. Grenell is expected to fill the role on a temporary basis until a permanent one is appointed and confirmed.
Maguire was expected to be nominated to be the permanent intelligence chief, though Trump reportedly soured on him after a senior official briefed Congress about Russian election interference. He reportedly claimed that Maguire’s staff had shown disloyalty by speaking to Congress about the issue.
The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to benefit Trump and harm Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Many top officials, including former Special Counsel Robert Mueller and FBI Director Chris Wray, have indicated that Russia had continued its efforts to interfere in U.S. election in the ensuing years.
Trump has dismissed the new reports as “misinformation” propped up by Democrats.
Sanders, meanwhile, acknowledged that he’d received a briefing that Russia developed a preference for Trump in 2020.
“Let’s be clear, the Russians want to undermine American democracy by dividing us up and, unlike the current president, I stand firmly against their efforts, and any other foreign power that wants to interfere in our election,” Sanders said last Friday while addressing the issue.
Nice deflection, Mr. President. But your false claims fool no one.
You welcomed Russian help in 2016, tried to coerce Ukraine’s help in 2019, and won’t protect our elections in 2020.
Now you fired your intel chief for briefing Congress about it.
You’ve betrayed America. Again. https://t.co/WlMDaz8stF
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) February 23, 2020