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Trump administration halts election security briefings

WASHINGTON: The United States’ top intelligence office told lawmakers it will end in-person briefings on election security because there had been leaks from congressional committees, officials said on Saturday.

The move drew heated rejoinders from Democrats who have focused on foreign efforts to sway the presidential election in 2016 and again this year.

President Donald Trump‘s new director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, notified the House and Senate intelligence panels on Friday that the office would send written reports instead, giving lawmakers less opportunity to press for details as the Nov. 3 election approaches. An official in Ratcliffe’s office, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said it was “concerned about unauthorised disclosures of sensitive information following recent briefings.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decried the move. “This is a shocking abdication of its lawful responsibility to keep the Congress currently informed, and a betrayal of the public’s right to know how foreign powers are trying to subvert our democracy,” she said in a statement.

Ratcliffe’s office had offered to hold in-person briefings for the House and Senate oversight panels next month, even after concerns surfaced about leaks from previous meetings, a House committee official said. It later rescinded the offer.

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