/Reports: Intelligence official warned lawmakers that Russia was interfering in 2020 to help Trump

Reports: Intelligence official warned lawmakers that Russia was interfering in 2020 to help Trump

WASHINGTON – Election intelligence officials warned lawmakers that Russia was interfering in the 2020 campaign with a goal of getting President Donald Trump re-elected, according to several media reports

First reported by the New York Times, the February 13 briefing led to Trump reprimanding Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, and accused him of being disloyal after aide Shelby Pierson told lawmakers aggressive Russian actors were continuing election-intrusion from 2016.

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Trump was reportedly especially displeased that House Intelligence Chairman, Adam Schiff, D-Calif., was included in the briefing, for fear that the congressman would try to use it to undermine the president during his re-election,according to the New York Times

Schiff led the impeachment proceedings against Trump. 

Pierson addressed Russia’s overall efforts, including weaponizing social media, hacking, and diminishing election infrastructures, according to reports. She was not well perceived by House lawmakers who are loyal to Trump, according to CNN. 

Maguire is now set to step down as acting DNI. Trump announced this week that he would be replaced by Richard Grenell, who as ambassador to Germany has been among the most outspoken supporters of the president within the U.S. diplomatic corps. 

Trump said he will name Grenell tas his acting intel chief, a key job that has been without a permanent, Senate-confirmed appointee for six months. 

Russia interfered in the 2016 election in an attempt to boost Trump to victory. The interference led to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. 

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Mueller told lawmakers after the two-year investigation that the Russian government had sought to meddle in the 2016 election in a dramatic fashion, and that it did so with an eye toward benefiting Trump. He said Trump’s campaign welcomed, even praised, that assistance, and while he said investigators did not gather sufficient evidence to prove a conspiracy, “problematic is an understatement” to describe some of Trump’s conduct. 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted, “Republicans keep blocking election security bills in the Senate, and now we know why: They’d rather let Putin win than stand up to President Trump.” 

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is running for the Democratic nomination, said that “Trump is shredding the rule of law—and the integrity of our democracy.”

Contributing: Courtney Subramanian, John Fritze, Michael Collins, David Jackson, Kristine Phillips, Kevin Johnson -USA TODAY