Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe joined Maria Bartimoro on “Sunday Morning Futures” today to discuss new intelligence briefing procedures for Congress on security threats like China.
“We’ve had a pandemic of information being leaked out of the intelligence community and I’m going to take the measures to make sure that that stops,” Ratcliffe said.
In his first interview since he was sworn into office, Ratcliffe explained that an increasing number of leaks by Congress for “political purposes,” such as promoting Russian collusion, have motivated him to change to only giving limited or written briefings for those “who are entitled to it.”
“We’ll do what’s required by law. Those members who are entitled to the briefings and classified information will still get that information,” Ratcliffe assured. “What we won’t be doing is all-member briefings. We’ve tried that and the information hasn’t been protected.”
According to Ratcliffe, many of the politicians leaking information want to “create a narrative that simply isn’t true, that somehow Russia is a greater national security threat than China.”
“I don’t mean to minimize Russia. They are a serious national security threat, but day in, day out, the threats that we face from China are significantly greater,” Ratcliffe said. “Anyone who says otherwise is just politicizing intelligence for their own narrative.”
“China is the greatest threat that we face,” he added.
Ratcliffe said China’s concealment of COVID-19 is a prime example of why the intelligence community, members of Congress, and people in the United States should be aware of China’s malignant actions.
“Ultimately, they engaged in a campaign to deflect blame from China,” Ratcliffe said. “They’re a bad international actor, and that’s why they shouldn’t be allowed to set international standards instead of the United States.”
While interference from other nations is more generalized, Ratcliffe warned that China has infiltrated multiple layers of U.S. government to meddle with policy.
“What China is doing that no one else is doing, is they are engaging at the local, state, and federal level,” Ratcliffe explained. “Beijing is threatening economic ruin in, for instance, districts where members of Congress are, threatening ruin to businesses, factories, and jobs unless members of Congress support pro-China policies or oppose policies of this administration that are tough on China.”
“It’s something that should concern every American,” Ratcliffe added.
Ratcliffe also clarified that, while China is not the only foreign actor who wants a stake in the American election, “it would be difficult for anyone — China, Russia, and Iran — to change actual vote tallies” because of “decentralized systems” used to count votes.
On the declassification of certain documents, Ratcliffe promised that he would continue to work with U.S. Attorney John Durham and the FBI to ensure that the proper information is disseminated without risking harm to the United States. He also said that even though the FBI would handle the prosecution of any congressional information leaks, he continues to pursue and report them.
“When I become aware of intelligence community information that is disclosed unlawfully, I do what’s called a crimes report. I’ve done that now on a number of occasions,” he said.