Other Democrats in the House of Representatives include the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff (California), the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel (NY), and the President of the Armed Services, Adam Smith (Washington). A mix of Democrats serving on Foreign and Armed Services panels: Representatives Brad Sherman (California), Gregory Meeks (New York), Mikie Sherrill (New Jersey), Abigail Spanberger (Virginia), Elissa Slotkin (Michigan), Rubén Gallego (Arizona) and Bill Keating (Misa).
“I think we have to understand what exactly is in intelligence, and then understand what, if anything, the White House has done about it. They must be forthcoming about it, ”Slotkin, a former CIA officer, told reporters on Monday.
“I need to see intelligence myself, but if it is serious intelligence, based on how the Russians operate, I think we have to ask ourselves if this represents a significant policy change and why,” he added.
The White House will meet separately on Tuesday with a group of Senate Republicans after briefing a carefully selected group of House Republicans on Monday. A larger group of senators had access to intelligence documents related to Russian rewards on Monday night, and Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) Quickly rebutted Trump’s claim that the news was a “hoax.”
“And if you continue to ignore the facts, more soldiers and marines are going to die.” Murphy said.
Senior White House officials have denied that Trump has been briefed on intelligence, despite detailed reports to the contrary. In a statement overnight, national security adviser Robert O’Brien said intelligence fell short of reporting to the president, despite reports that the administration was aware of the rewards for months.
“Because the allegations in recent newspaper articles have not been verified or substantiated by the Intelligence Community, President Trump has not been informed on the issues,” O’Brien said.
“However, the administration, including staff of the National Security Council, has been preparing if the situation warrants action.”
Despite O’Brien’s statement, the intelligence community deemed the rewards claims credible enough to include them in a classified CIA intelligence document distributed to US officials around the world, according to the Times.
O’Brien’s comments came after a day of shifting explanations from Trump and the White House. Although senior officials said Saturday that Trump had not been informed, Trump tweeted Sunday night that “Intel” had informed him that the allegations were “not credible.” However, as of Monday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany continued to insist that the president had not been informed, even when briefings for lawmakers were being organized.
On Tuesday morning, Trump continued his strategy of highlighting experts by asking questions about the veracity of intelligence, retweeting a dismissive comment from Geraldo Rivera of Fox News, who mischaracterized the Times report on the episode.
But the White House has so far resisted calls from Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (Democrat for California) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) who have demanded that all members of both houses receive a report from the administration. Pelosi and Trump have a particularly frayed relationship, and the two have not spoken since October, when Democrats he left from a White House briefing on Syria after the president insulted the speaker.
Democrats have harshly criticized what they say is further evidence of the Trump administration’s clear politicization of what are typically bipartisan intelligence reports relayed to congressional leaders and relevant members in both houses, regardless of the political party.
Instead of briefings, which would include leaders of the House and Senate and intelligence committees, or all members of certain committees, a petty group of lawmakers is called into the White House, divided into groups based on whether they are republican or not. Democrats
Still, high-ranking Democrats and Republicans said Monday they would continue to press the White House for answers on reward intelligence, even if the president was briefed; why Trump was not informed, if he was not; and how the administration plans to retaliate against Russia if the reports are true.
But how the two sides seek to send a message to the controversy will be a different matter: Democrats have long accused the president of being soft on Russia and questioned Trump’s apparent admiration for his authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin.
Although Trump’s allies say he has been tough on Russia, Trump has repeatedly accepted Putin’s word, about the verdict from US intelligence agencies, about Russian interference in the 2016 election, and has helped promote Russian narratives without foundation on a Ukrainian plot in the elections. Meanwhile, US intelligence leaders say Russia is ready to interfere again in the 2020 elections and has worked to destabilize Western alliances.
Republicans, meanwhile, have further directed their outrage at administration officials, questioning the veracity of intelligence and whether the president was informed of the claims, despite news reports to the contrary.
“It is important to be cautious with large-scale intelligence writing, because when it is shown to be inaccurate, it can lead to things like war or other measures that turned out to be counterproductive,” Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the acting president of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters.
“You take out a little piece, put it in the public domain and act like it’s a firearm situation. That’s one of the reasons why I just don’t comment on reports like these. “
Jake Sherman contributed to this report.