In New Letter To DNI Director Coats, Senate Democratic Leader Schumer Demands Answers On Top Russian Spy Chief’s Seemingly Authorized Trip To U.S. And His Meetings With U.S. Intel Officials; Letter Comes In Wake Of Trump Admin’s Announcement Of No New Sanctions On RussiaFebruary 1, 2018
A Chief Russian Spy Official, Sergey Naryshkin, Was Allowed Into The U.S. Just Last Week To Meet With American Officials
Schumer To Director Coats: Willingness Of U.S. Intel To Host Top Russian Spy Raises Serious Questions & Requires Additional Transparency For The American People
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today demanded answers from the Director of the Office of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, in light of the news that the chief of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergey Naryshkin, was allowed into the country to meet with top American intelligence officials despite U.S. sanctions forbidding his entry without the Trump Administration’s approval. Schumer said that Congress and the American people deserve to know why the red carpet was rolled out for the top Russian spy just one year after the U.S. intelligence community unanimously concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections and just days before the Trump Administration decided it would not take any actions to impose a price on President Putin and his cronies for their interference in the election. Schumer penned a letter to Director Coats demanding he explain why this visit was authorized, citing that the willingness of the intelligence community to host the sanctioned chief Russian spy requires immediate and serious answers.
A copy of Leader Schumer’s letter to Director Coats appears below and the full letter can be downloaded here:
January 31, 2018
The Honorable Daniel Coats
Director of National Intelligence
Washington, DC 20511
Dear Director Coats:
According to recent statements by the Russian Embassy in Washington D.C., the chief of the Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (known as the SVR) – Sergey Naryshkin – and his delegation were in the United States last week for meetings with U.S. counterparts. While the U.S. frequently interacts with foreign governments, a U.S. meeting with the chief of the SVR a little more than a year after our Intelligence Community unanimously concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election raises a number important questions.
As you are well aware, Mr. Naryshkin is a Specially Designated National under U.S. sanctions law, which imposes severe financial penalties and prohibits his entry into the U.S. without a waiver. Moreover, the visit of the SVR chief occurred only days before Congress was informed of the president’s decision not to implement sanctions authorized the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which was passed with near unanimous, bipartisan support. CAATSA was designed to impose a price on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his cronies for well-documented Russian aggression and interference in the 2016 election. However, the administration took little to no action, even as Russia continues its cyberattacks on the U.S.
Given these circumstances, the decision to host a senior Russian intelligence official at this juncture, and the Intelligence Community’s involvement in this decision, requires additional transparency for the American people. I ask that you please provide responses to the following questions by February, 9, 2018:
- Why did the Administration decide to host Mr. Naryshkin and his delegation in the U.S.? What, if any, preceding meetings and communications with the Russian government informed this decision?
- Was any waiver sought or similar action taken to permit Mr. Naryshkin entry into the U.S.? If a waiver was issued, who approved it and pursuant to what justification?
- What, if any, other Russian officials joined Mr. Naryshkin? Were any additional officials in the delegation subject to U.S. sanctions?
- Which Administration officials – including from the White House, the National Security Council, the Defense Department, the State Department, or the Intelligence Community – met with Mr. Naryshkin and his delegation during his time in the U.S.?
- What specific policy issues and topics were discussed by Mr. Naryshkin and U.S. officials?
- Did the U.S. officials who met with Mr. Naryshkin raise Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections? If not, why was this not raised? If raised, what was his response?
- Did the U.S. officials who met with Mr. Naryshkin raise existing and congressionally-mandated U.S. sanctions against Russia discussed? If not, why was this not raised? If raised, what was his response?
- Did the U.S. officials who met with Mr. Naryshkin raise ongoing Russian cyber attacks on the U.S. and its allies, including reported efforts to discredit the Federal Bureau of Investigation and law enforcement investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections? If not, why was this not raised? If raised, what was his response?
- Did the U.S. officials who met with Mr. Naryshkin make clear that Putin’s interference in the 2018 and 2020 elections would be a hostile act against the United States? If not, why was this not raised? If raised, what was his response?
While I understand that responses to these questions will contain both classified and unclassified information, I ask that you provide all unclassified information in an unclassified response. To the extent classified information is also in your responses to this request, please provide a classified addendum to the Office of Senate Security.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
Charles E. Schumer
cc: Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
Director of Central Intelligence Agency Mike Pompeo
National Security Advisor Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster