ODNI: Intelligence Community Will Give Threat Briefings to Presidential Candidates, Not FBI

Michael Flynn
AFP Photo/CHRIS KLEPONIS

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) will give the 2020 presidential candidates intelligence-based threat briefings instead of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) going forward, a statement from the ODNI said.

The statement said:

Today, the ODNI announced that the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) will lead all intelligence-based threat briefings to candidates, campaigns, and political organizations under the U.S. Government’s notification framework. Bill Evanina, the Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, will serve as the IC’s leader to this critical effort.

This change represents an important improvement and simplification to the threat notification process. The IC will continue to work in partnership with FBI and DHS to identify and integrate threat information, and Evanina and the elections team will act swiftly to deliver the timely and thorough assessments to those affected by potential malicious influence.

Evanina said, “US elections are the foundation of our nation’s democracy. We are committed to supporting this Administration’s whole-of-government effort to secure the 2020 election.”

The change comes after the Justice Department moved to drop its case against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and released documents that showed that top FBI officials had discussed whether their goal was to get Flynn to admit to violating an obscure law or to get him to lie in order to prosecute him or get him fired.

The documents also showed that the FBI had moved to close its investigation of whether Flynn was a Russian asset on January 4, 2017, after not finding any derogatory information on him. However, that same day, then-FBI agent Peter Strzok moved to keep the investigation open, on the basis that the FBI had just discovered Flynn’s phone calls with a Russian ambassador.

The calls were not illegal, but some FBI and intelligence officials argued that Flynn might have violated the 1799 Logan Act, which prohibits private citizens from conducting foreign policy on behalf of a government. The law has never been successfully prosecuted, and Flynn was incoming national security adviser. DOJ officials at the time expressed doubt over whether they could bring a successful case against Flynn.

The FBI’s handling of the investigation into Flynn and the Trump campaign is being investigated by U.S. attorneys appointed by Attorney General William Barr.

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