A letter given to Congress by Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe discusses a newly declassified report which has confirmed that China interfered in the 2020 election.
Ratcliffe wrote in his letter (pdf) that management within the CIA suppressed information about Chinese interference in the election, and pressured analysts to withdraw their support of the fact.
The report, written by the Intelligence Community’s analytic ombudsman Barry Zulauf, states that some of the analysts were reluctant to describe the actions taken by China as election interference, as they disagree with President Trump‘s policies surrounding China and didn’t want to appear as if they were supporting him.
Both Ratcliffe’s letter and the ombudsman report were published on January 17 by the Washington Examiner.
“Based on all available sources of intelligence, with definitions consistently applied, and reached independent of political considerations or undue pressure—that the People’s Republic of China sought to influence the 2020 U.S. federal elections,” Ratcliffe wrote.
Congress received Zulauf’s report on January 7, along with an intelligence community assessment of interference in the 2020 election.
In the report, Zulauf wrote that different standards were applied by the analysts working on Russian and Chinese interference in the election. They were quick to label Russia’s activity as clear election interference, but were unwilling to do the same for China’s activity.
“Given analytic differences in the way Russia and China analysts examined their targets, China analysts appeared hesitant to assess Chinese actions as undue influence or interference,” Zulauf wrote.
“These analysts appeared reluctant to have their analysis on China brought forward because they tended to disagree with the Administration’s policies, saying in effect, I don’t want our intelligence used to support those policies,” he continued.
No actual details related to China‘s interference in the election were included in either the ombudsman report or Ratcliffe’s letter.
The report also assessed that politicization occurred in relation to the analysis of interference from both China and Russia, but tried to claim that the politicization of election interference analysis was not the fault of the analysts or leaders in the intelligence community. Instead, he tried to stand up for them, blaming their actions on the hyper-partisan atmosphere in the United States.
“In most cases, what we see is the entire system responding to and resisting pressures from outside, rather than attempts to politicize intelligence by our leaders or analysts,” he wrote.
In a December 3, 2020 op-ed, Ratcliffe wrote that the Chinese Communist Party “poses the greatest threat to America today, and the greatest threat to democracy and freedom worldwide since World War II.”
“The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the U.S. and the rest of the planet economically, militarily, and technologically. Many of China’s major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party,” he wrote.