Senators Urge Declassification of Chinese Election Interference Info

Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore, Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., wrote Dan Coats, director of National Intelligence, on Monday urging him to declassify information regarding China’s attempts to influence U.S. elections.

“There may be no intelligence issue in which the public interest is stronger than foreign influence with regard to U.S. elections,” the letter said. “It is critically important that the American people understand which specific activities each of our adversaries have or have not undertaken, and to what degree. The public’s capacity to recognize foreign influence efforts and the ability of elected officials to develop effective policy responses depend on this level of transparency.”

The letter was a response to a letter Coats sent to the Senators on Feb. 8, 2019. Referencing Coats’ previous letter, the Senators said “As you noted, you had previously provided a classified response on October 31, 2018. We request that that letter be declassified.”

The senators further noted that the classified Oct. 31 letter provided “important information about the 2018 elections, as well as the 2016 elections,” information which, according to the Senators, Coats did not include in his Dec. 8 letter.

Coats’ Feb. 8 letter, which is unclassified and publicly available, references his Oct. 31 letter as well as additional testimony and press statements his office has given. In the letter, he said that “China was one of the countries that attempted to influence the 2018 U.S. elections.” He further said that his office has released statements detailing ongoing campaigns from Russia, China, and other foreign actors to influence “public sentiment and government policies and undermine confidence in democratic institutions.” However, he did not provide any additional details regarding China’s activities.

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