Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe again tried to declassify documents that cast doubt on Russia’s 2016 attempt to help President Donald Trump win the election just hours before a 2020 presidential debate, according to Reuters.
Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has not seen which documents Ratcliffe is seeking, spokesperson Rachel Cohen told TPM.
But, she said, the DNI appears to be focused on “a variety of highly classified raw intelligence designed to cast doubts on the findings of the 2017 ICA.” Cohen added that those findings were unanimously reaffirmed by the Senate Intelligence Committee in its five-part report.
Ratcliffe pulled a similar stunt before the first presidential debate, releasing unvetted Russian disinformation about Hillary Clinton’s campaign without contextualizing or disavowing it. The Russian chatter, which Ratcliffe publicized in a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC), was that the Clinton campaign had plans to taint the Trump campaign by tying it to the DNC server hack. The Senate Intelligence Committee, helmed by Republicans, had come across that information early on in its own investigation, but disregarded it as baseless.
This time, according to Reuters, Ratcliffe has, reportedly, so far been stymied by officials at the CIA and NSA who say that the information would “damage national security assets and jeopardize sources and methods.”
Unbowed, Ratcliffe continued to push to get the information declassified by Thursday. According to Reuters, the information was requested by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), a staunch Trump ally and former House Intelligence Committee chair who blithely ignored evidence of Russia’s malfeasance in favor of spending the committee’s time and resources investigating made-up scandals to help Trump.
Ratcliffe and others had been pushing to have the intelligence declassified by Thursday night, one of the officials said. If successful, that would allow its release around the time that Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden square off in their final debate.
— Jonathan Landay (@JonathanLanday) October 22, 2020
Reuters reported that the document Ratcliffe is trying to unveil as two or three years old and “originated in Congress by Republicans who support Trump’s assertion that Russians did not intervene to help him defeat Clinton.”
After Ratcliffe’s September pre-debate document dump, MAGA world eagerly tossed the nugget into a melting pot of hard-to-follow conspiracy theories being lapped up before the debate. Two others that gained some traction online involved a fabrications about former Vice President Joe Biden wearing an earpiece, and being fed the debate questions in advance.
Trump and co. are similarly trying to soften the ground before Thursday’s event. He’s been preemptively attacking the moderator, NBC’s Kristen Welker, amid false attacks that she has donated to Democrats. He’s also been avidly promoting a story about Hunter Biden published in the New York Post that’s so questionable, even Fox News passed on it.