United States President Donald Trump has accused Adam Schiff of leaking classified intelligence documents on Russian interference in US presidential elections of 2020. As Trump readied for his maiden trip to India, he talked to reporters in the White House on February 23. The US President said that Schiff “and his group” leaked the documents to hurt the reputation of Democratic front runner Bernie Sanders. He further called for an investigation against Schiff.
According to an international news agency, three intelligence officials who are familiar with the closed-door briefing have cautioned lawmakers. This comes as the Senate acquitted Trump of all articles of impeachment on charges; 'obstruction to Congress' and 'abuse of power'. Moreover, the recent revelation further raises questions on the integrity of the presidential campaign for Trump and whether officials are taking essential steps to combat the kind of Russian interference that was seen in the US elections of 2016.
However, Trump said on Sunday that he was not briefed about the intelligence that Kremlin was aiming to meddle in the November elections. The US President said, “they leaked it, Adam Schiff and his group”. Even though the Democratic lawmaker has denied the allegation, Trump has called for an investigation without any evidence to back his claims.
With increasing allegations over Russia's interference in the United States elections in 2020 after similar reports surfaced back in the 2016 elections, Trump had dismissed them. On February 20, reports suggested that intelligence officials cautioned lawmakers over Kremlin's meddling in the US polls to support Trump. However, on February 21, POTUS called it “another misinformation campaign”. Trump further placed the blame the reports on “Do Nothing Democrats” while accusing them of organising “Hoax number 7”.
Intelligence officials had asked for anonymity as it was the matter of sensitive intelligence. They said on February 20 that the briefing among them last week focussed mainly on Russia's efforts to influence the 2020 US elections and sow discord in the country's electorate. This warning by officials which was first reported by the New York Times and The Washington Post has been denied by Moscow.
Russian spokesperson Dmitry Peskov called the reports of Kremlin's meddling in US elections as “paranoid announcements” on February 21. He further added that “unfortunately” there will be “more and more” such reports as they get closer to elections. However, according to Peskov, “they have nothing to do with the truth”.
(With agency inputs)