U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District
U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District CTMirror.org file photo

Washington – Rep. Jim Himes attended a controversial briefing last week in which a senior U.S. intelligence official reportedly said Russia wants President Donald Trump re-elected, viewing his administration as friendlier to Moscow’s interests than any potential Democratic candidate’s.

Himes, D-4th District, attended the closed-door briefing as a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee.

He said on Friday he could not discuss what the intelligence official told the lawmakers in a classified briefing. But he said the public should be be privy to “a very detailed account of the threats against us,” Himes said.

In a story that roiled the nation’s capital Friday, The Washington Post reported that intelligence official Shelby Pierson said several times during last week’s congressional briefing that Russia had “developed a preference” for Trump and was meddling in the 2020 elections.

Anonymous U.S. officials told the Post that Pierson made those comments during a briefing on  election security that included discussion of when the U.S. government should warn Democratic candidates if they are being targeted by foreign governments.

Outgoing Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire

Other U.S. intelligence officials were also involved in the briefing.

The Post reported that Trump was angered when he learned of the briefing and dressed down his acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, because he believes Maguire and his staff are disloyal for speaking to Congress about Russia’s perceived preference.

Trump on Friday said the story about the briefing was a politically motivated “hoax.”

“Another misinformation campaign is being launched by Democrats in Congress saying that Russia prefers me to any of the Do Nothing Democrat candidates who still have been unable to, after two weeks, count their votes in Iowa. Hoax number 7!” the president tweeted.

Trump’s furious response to the briefing ­ruined Maguire’s chances of becoming the permanent intelligence chief, the story said.

Himes said Trump’s actions could inhibit members of the U.S. intelligence committee from reporting accurate information and threat assessments.

“Senior people in the intelligence community may be thinking that if I give honest intelligence … that my career might suffer. And when that happens, this country is in a very, very bad place,” Himes said.

Himes also said “we’ve seen this movie before” when former Vice President Dick Cheney pressured the U.S. intelligence community to back his assertion that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, a charge that paved the way to war.

“[Former CIA director] George Tenet said it was so, and that [winning a war with Iraq] was a slam dunk,” Himes said.

He added that Maguire, and all those who were in the Oval Office when Trump took his intelligence chief to task, should come forward and tell the American people what they told the lawmakers last week.

Trump on Thursday said he would replace Maguire as acting DNI chief with U.S. ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and name a permanent replacement soon.

Trump said one candidate is Georgia Senate candidate Rep. Doug Collins, a Republican who fiercely defended the president during last year’s impeachment inquiry. Collins said he was not interested in the job “at this time.”

Himes criticized both Grenell and Collins for their lack of experience in the world of intelligence.

“We should aspire – and I know this sounds crazy – but we should aspire to a world where the president appoints someone who actually has a little bit of subject matter expertise over the subject that he or she will be running.”

Himes said he had “nothing personal against the gentlemen,” but they were not qualified to head the nation’s intelligence community, a coalition of 17 spy agencies.

Himes said he was not surprised about much of what he heard in the briefing.

“I would be more surprised if the Russians did not meddle into our next elections,” he said.

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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24 Comments

  1. Of course Russia would prefer Trump. Our very stable genius president, who knows more about everything than anybody else in the world, believes Putin’s word over the word of every U.S. intelligence officer who is duty-bound to serve and protect this country (as opposed to slavishly loyal to Trump himself). Why on earth would Russia want anybody else to be president?

    1. Russia loved Obama. He did nothing while Ukraine invaded Crimea. He sent sleeping bags for Ukraine to defend themselves against Russia. He did nothing while Russia violated the Intermediate Nuclear Missile treaty with the US.

      Trump sent Ukraine lethal weapons. Trump cancelled the Intermediate Nuclear Missile treaty and will move missiles into range against Russia.

      Gee, who treated Russia better?

      1. He sure is the Appeaser in Chief. Helsinki was a total embarassment, never before has a President grovelled to Russia ( Putin) like that. And for a U.S. President to believe Putin over multiple U.S. Intelligence agencies is treasonous.

      2. And of course it’s not just Russia. Let’s not forget that Trump (in his own words) “fell in love” with Kim Jong Un. And, again contrary to multiple intelligence sources, he defended Saudi Arabia’s Prince MBS (friend of son-in-law Jared Kushner) on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. He sure has “a thing” for violent, murderous dictators, doesn’t he?

      3. Wow! Just… wow! For starters, Ukraine did not invade Crimea. RUSSIA invaded and, eventually, annexed Crimea in February and March 2014. RUSSIA took Crimea
        away from UKRAINE, of which it was an internationally recognized part. That’s why additional sanctions were placed on Russia and it was kicked out of G-8 (which is now G-7). And, of course, you’ve bought — hook, line, and sinker — the fake news that Obama did nothing more than send “sleeping bags” (or blankets and pillows).

  2. The briefing was “by all accounts” singularly focused on the left narrative that Russia and Putin are working to ensure a Trump re election.
    There was absolutely NO evidence presented to substantiate such a claim. Rather it was nothing more then opinions and partisan talking points..
    The left can’t seem to get off this horse even though it died long ago,!

    1. So all the intelligence agencies that said they interfered in 2016 were wrong. And the multiple intelligent agencies now saying it are wrong. And Trump is right. Thus, you supporters believe him. Man, oh man……my country has gone to hell.

      1. Yes, indeed, this is a very scary time in our country when the president and his supporters believe the Russians over our own people.

      2. The other side of the story that you either refuse to acknowledge or by way of partisanship just are ignoring is that the Republicans in that meeting immediately asked if there was actual EVIDENCE To back up the assertion???
        The answer was NO…
        End of story excepting for the left trying to once again spin a false narrative!

  3. Has anybody in our CT delegation thought through this technique? The Russians, Chinese, North Koreans and others have tried to influence our election for many years starting after WWII. This is no secret. Don’t you think they see that any praise of President Trump causes the democrats to go bonkers? Don’t you think this is a ploy they want to use to further divide the people of the USA as if the main stream media is not already doing that. The Russians use our own media against us and we continue to dance to their fiddle.

    1. big difference today:
      with technology. plus, folks backed then cared more and believed truths vs today a big % of folks don’t get “truth” I.e. read authoritative sources. They only read Facebook, Twitter and Fox News.
      you are right, those folks “dance to their fiddle”. it is sad.

    2. Yes, indeed, the Russians are cunning and devious and exploitative. So can you explain why Trump continues to take their word over that of our own intelligence community?

  4. another one bites the Trump dust.
    Joe Maguire, 36 year Navy SEAL, vice admiral in the Navy. Who is going to be left? Kushner? He is surrounded by kiss butters and non qualified folks in all these big positions.
    Google “list of people trump has offended”. it’s mind blowing

  5. What the article fails to mention is that the Russians are also reportedly working to help Bernie Sanders win the Democratic nomination–as they did in 2016. For the Russians, if the election becomes one between Trump and Sanders, they can’t lose. If Trump wins, he will continue to tear apart alliances, isolate America, and continue the decades long dynamic of weakening America’s competitive health (e.g. no infrastructure repair, diminished public sector basic research, now 28th globally in university funded research, no effort to improve our education, now 19th in college graduation: NB: note this is a long-term pattern, not specific to Trump); if Sanders wins, he likely will face a GOP Senate and thus gridlock, and I fear given his extreme hostility of Wall Street, insurance companies, billionaires (now that he is himself a millionaire, he has raised his sights), and foreign “entanglements,” he will likely be nearly as divisive as President Trump and unable to govern.

    1. Yes, the Russians are to blame for everything. A nation with a smaller GDP than South Korea, Canada and Brazil has captured the American political process. I remember when Vladimir Putin sent me the six figure bill for each of my children’s college tuition and when he slapped me with five figures in co-pays when my health insurance refused to pay bills for an emergency hospital stay and when he crashed the world economy in 2008 because he lost trillions on sub prime mortgages and then when Putin bailed out Wall Street and he threw millions of Americans out of their homes. Never forget that it was Putin who invaded Iraq in 2003 on phony intelligence and sent hundreds of thousands to their deaths and it was Putin who exploded the American prison population. How about those Putin tax cuts for the wealthy? Oh wait….that wasn’t Putin, that was us, again and again and again. One more thing. In 1996 which country lobbied the IMF so that it would give Russia a 10 billion dollar loan to aid Boris Yeltsin in his re-election bid. Yes, that was us too.

      1. Totally peculiar response. Yes, Russia is a relatively poor country with declining life expectancy, heavily dependent on energy exports. It is also a very dangerous adversary as Putin looks to reestablish Russian hegemony. And Putin would very much like to see America weakened. That said, you have a litany of criticisms of America’s foreign and domestic policies. OK. What does that have to do with the insecurity of our elections?

  6. Isn’t the real question why we have done virtually nothing to strengthen our election processes and improve protections against meddling? Any country, entity, or individual hostile to America or American democracy, be it Russia, North Korea, China, Iran, neo-Nazis, white-supremacists, or Steve Bannon, would presumptively like to mess with our elections and create whatever disruption they can. And our failure to secure our elections against such meddling seems to me an open invitation to try to meddle.

    1. Fred… Why do we need to spend more money when NOT ONE VOTE was actually changed in the last election.
      I feel sorry for people who actually click on a social platform ad/post and have their choices altered by such… And I just don’t believe it had squat to do with Trump winning in 2016…
      Do you???

      1. I do not believe that anybody, ever, has claimed that the Russians actually altered vote totals or changed any persons actual cast vote. As I recall, their meddling consisted of attempts (some successful, some not) to hack into states’ voter databases and election systems, along with social media propaganda favorable to Trump and/or intended to cause political and social discord in the US. Here’s a link to a (heavily redacted) Senate Intelligence report on Russian election interference. We should all be alarmed. https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Report_Volume1.pdf

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