US officials told House lawmakers during an election security briefing that they don’t have direct knowledge that Russian President Vladimir Putin has developed a preference for a candidate in the 2020 US presidential election, according to four sources familiar with the matter.
That appears to conflict with what administration officials told the House Intelligence Committee last month when a briefer said the Russians had developed a preference for President Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders. The briefers contended that Putin’s goal is to sow discontent.
Two sources said House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, brought up the discrepancy during today’s briefing.
Also, two sources said, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer raised concerns about the assertion.
Maxine Waters, the California Democrat and chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, told CNN that after they asserted the Russians weren’t trying to assist any candidate, she got up and left.
“I just felt that I didn’t have any confidence” in their assessment, Waters said.
Illinois Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi told CNN he didn’t have confidence in the briefing and raised concerns about “propaganda” being spewed like in China.
This is the first time the full House has received an election security briefing since the shakeup atop the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The House Intelligence Committee was previously briefed by Shelby Pierson, the top intelligence election security official.
Pierson did not take part in Tuesday’s briefing for the full House.
Following media reports of last month’s Intelligence Committee briefing, a senior intelligence official denied that Pierson had told lawmakers that Russia was actively aiding Trump’s reelection effort.
One source familiar with the matter said Pierson was merely providing her view of the intelligence as she faced a series of questions from lawmakers trying to pin her down on whether the intelligence showed a Russian preference for Trump.