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House Intel Chair Lashes Intelligence Community for Ducking Election Hacks Briefing

House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. // Andrew Harnik/AP

This story has been updated to include a statement from ODNI.

The dispute over Russian meddling in the 2016 election took an additional political turn late Wednesday as House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., charged intelligence agencies had refused to brief the committee on new allegations.

That refusal could “enable the manipulation of intelligence for political purposes,” Nunes said in a statement.

The committee wants, in particular, to “clarify press reports that the CIA has a new assessment that it has not shared with us,” Nunes said, a likely reference to unconfirmed press reports that Russian government-linked hackers probed and may have penetrated the Republican National Committee in addition to Democratic political targets.

That revelation was one factor leading the intelligence community to conclude the Russian government’s goal in the hacking was to aid President-elect Donald Trump’s election rather than simply to destabilize the election process, according to a New York Times report.

NBC News reported Wednesday some intelligence officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin personally directed portions of the operation. 

The report has not been stood up by official government sources or by private cybersecurity researchers as the DNC breach was.  

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence shot back in a statement, saying “senior administration officials have regularly provided extensive, detailed classified and unclassified briefings to members and staff from both parties” including in the weeks since Election Day. The intelligence community plans to brief Congress on the president’s review of election-related hacking once its complete, the statement said. It did not mention the RNC hacking allegations.

The Intelligence Committee’s ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., will not be commenting on Nunes’ statement, a spokesman said Wednesday.

“The committee will continue its efforts and will insist that we receive all the necessary cooperation from the relevant leaders of the intelligence community,” Nunes said.

Trump does not believe the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia was responsible for the breach and asserted the conclusion was politically motivated.

Nunes pushed back earlier this week against calls for a new congressional investigation into the election breaches, saying his committee is already conducting oversight of numerous executive branch reviews, including a new review of election-related hacking dating back to 2008 ordered by the Obama administration. An additional investigation would be duplicative, he said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has endorsed an election hacking review by the Senate Intelligence Committee and Schiff has called for a joint investigation by the House and Senate intelligence panels. 

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