Hours before the debate, Trump's Director of National Intelligence spreads an unverified Russian claim - 2020-09-29
Just hours before President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are set to square off in their first debate, John Ratcliffe, Trump's Director of National Intelligence, has declassified documentation of a theory floated by Russian intelligence. While Ratcliffe explicitly warned that US intelligence could not vouch for the theory's accuracy, writing that it may "reflect exaggeration or fabrication," Trump backers, including the president's son, have already seized upon the Trump-ally's selective disclosure to spread claims that Hillary Clinton somehow masterminded a plot to pin a "Russia hoax" on her 2016 opponent.
The intelligence had previously been rejected as unreliable.
The claim, contained in a letter from the director of national intelligence to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and described by Ratcliffe as deriving from US insight into a "Russian intelligence analysis," alleges that Clinton "approved a campaign plan to stir up a scandal" against Trump in relation to his links to Putin and in light of the DNC having been hacked. If Russia concluded this, they don't seem to have uncovered anything secret: Clinton's highlighting of Trump's ties to Russia, which were a subject of controversy during the campaign, was well known—she did so on the debate stage, as the campaign she directed pressed the case in other venues.