The FBI will no longer be responsible for conducting election security briefings with presidential candidates after a decision by Acting DNI Richard Grenell to assign that duty to the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC)
“US elections are the foundation of our nation’s democracy,” said NCSC Director Bill Evanina. “We are committed to supporting this Administration’s whole-of-government effort to secure the 2020 election.”
Grenell’s decision comes as the FBI faces increased scrutiny over its political bias relating to Michael Flynn and the Trump Presidency. Last week, we learned Joe Biden himself was one of the Obama officials who sought to unmask Flynn’s name in a classified intelligence report.
Exposed documents suggest FBI agents attempted to get Flynn to lie during an interview. As late as this February, that same agency briefed Bernie Sanders about Russian efforts to aid his campaign.
Moving forward, Mr. Evanina will be responsible for speaking with candidates about developing national security and intelligence matters that could affect their campaigns.
Evanina was confirmed by the Senate as head of the NCSC this month, but has been serving in the role in an acting capacity since 2014.
Evanina will coordinate and lead the briefings to Democratic and Republican candidates, but members from the FBI and DHS may attend. “Bill and our center over the years [have] been involved to some extent,” said an official from Evanina’s office. “This has to be a team sport and we had a role working with others in this space.”
The change in procedure does not affect the role of Shelby Pierson, ODNI’s Election Threats Executive. Pierson’s credibility was thrown into question in February after she told lawmakers that Russia was attempting to interfere in the 2020 election on the behalf of candidates Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Pierson was accused of omitting important details and jumping to conclusions that were not included in the intelligence community’s assessment.
According to officials, the intelligence community has determined that Russia is in fact trying to interfere in the 2020 election. The community has separately determined that Moscow views Trump as a leader with whom they can work, but does not have proof that Russia’s interference is designed to boost Trump’s reelection campaign.