(CNN)Republican lawmakers vocally objected to an intelligence briefing assessment that Russia prefers President Donald Trump to win in 2020 — and Rep. Devin Nunes of California, a close Trump ally, told the President about the election meddling briefing, according to a person familiar with the matter afterward.
Trump was irritated that he had to learn about the briefing — in which lawmakers were warned the intelligence community believes Russia is already taking steps to interfere in the 2020 election with the goal of helping Trump — from a lawmaker and not from his own officials, the person said.
The President expressed frustration that “it’s happening again,” the person said, referring to his perception that political rivals, including House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, were able to weaponize intelligence related to Russia.
Trump’s Republican allies pushed back during the briefing against the assessment that Russia was helping Trump, arguing that the President has been tough on Russia, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Trump on Twitter Friday accused Democrats of a “misinformation campaign.”
“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!” Trump tweeted.
At a meeting last week following the briefing, Trump became irate toward outgoing acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire over the classified briefing to the House Intelligence Committee, a White House official said, for allowing the information about Russia’s meddling to be included.
US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell was tapped this week to replace Maguire as acting intelligence chief.
Trump’s reaction to the briefing has set off a new firestorm over how the President will handle Russia’s efforts to meddle in the 2020 presidential election — and if he will take steps to curb US efforts to stop Russia in 2020. Trump still has repeatedly rejected the intelligence community assessment that Russia meddled in the 2016 election and favored his campaign over that of Hillary Clinton, despite his senior intelligence officials agreeing with the assessment.
Democrats are raising fresh concerns about the appointment of Grenell, who does not have intelligence experience — and whether it was made in reaction to Trump’s anger toward Maguire over the briefing.
“Now all of a sudden, senior people in the intelligence community may be thinking that if I give honest intelligence — if I can take you back, you know, 15 years or so, 20 years, there are no weapons of mass destruction, President George W. Bush — that my career might suffer,” Rep. Jim Himes, a Connecticut Democrat, said on CNN’s “New Day.” “And when that happens, this country is in a very, very bad place.”
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