House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said Sunday it is possible the House could subpoena intelligence officials to testify on election security issues, a day after Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe informed members of Congress that the nation’s top intelligence office will no longer deliver in-person briefings.
Asked by CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” if he would subpoena intelligence officials to appear in a public hearing ahead of the November election, Schiff said it “is certainly one of the tools that we may use.”
“I can’t speak for what decision ultimately we’ll make. That’s a decision that will have to go to the speaker,” he said, referring to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Intelligence gathered on foreign interference in the 2020 election, Schiff said, belongs to the American public, not President Donald Trump.
“This intelligence paid for by taxpayers doesn’t belong to Donald Trump, it doesn’t belong to the intelligence agencies, it belongs to the American people. The agencies are merely the custodians of that information,” Schiff, a California Democrat, told Bash.
“And the American people ought to know what Russia is doing, they ought to know their President is unwilling to stand up to Vladimir Putin,” Schiff added, continuing later: “And that information belongs to the American people, it doesn’t belong to Donald Trump.”
CNN reported Saturday that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has informed the House and Senate Select Committees on Intelligence that it’ll no longer be briefing in-person on election security issues, according to letters obtained by CNN. Instead, ODNI will primarily provide written updates to the congressional panels, a senior administration official said.
The official added that other agencies supporting election security, including the Department of Justice, Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security, intend to continue briefing Congress.
The comments from Schiff add to a growing list of criticisms lobbed at the administration in the wake of the announcement, which itself is a change that runs counter to the pledge of transparency and regular briefings on election threats by the intelligence community.
In a joint statement Saturday, Schiff and Pelosi called the administration’s move a “shocking abdication of its lawful responsibility to keep the Congress currently informed,” while Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Ratcliffe “has made clear he’s in the job only to protect Trump from democracy, not democracy from Trump.”
The announcement comes after the top intelligence official on election security issued a statement earlier this month saying China, Russia and Iran are seeking to interfere in the 2020 US election, a warning that prompted some backlash from Democrats on Capitol Hill who have continued to push for the public release of more information about the nature of those efforts.