Andrew Desiderio Profile picture
@Politico congressional reporter covering the Senate, national security and foreign policy. Proud Italian-American and Philly native.
BlackeyedSusan28 ~BUILD BACK BETTER💙~BLM🇺🇸 Profile picture Diana Roby Profile picture Duxinaro Profile picture SLT-TMK Profile picture Aviva Gabriel Profile picture 7 added to My Authors
30 Apr
I reported in Feb. 2020 that Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), then-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, privately warned Johnson that his Biden investigations were aiding Russian disinformation efforts…

Later that year, Johnson was warned by the FBI:
We also reported that the CIA last year was ignoring requests by Johnson’s committee for briefings as part of their Biden probe.…
Democratic leaders asked the FBI for a briefing last summer about whether members of Congress were being targeted.

Among their concerns was that Johnson’s Biden probe had become a vehicle for “laundering” a foreign influence campaign to damage Biden.…
Read 5 tweets
26 Apr
New: Republicans tear into John Kerry over his alleged disclosures to Iran about Israel’s operations in Syria.

Sullivan: “People are talking about treason—and I don’t throw that word around a lot.”

But Lindsey Graham urges caution.

Story w/ @burgessev…
Graham sticks up for Kerry: “I don’t know if we should trust that tape or not. If it’s true, it’s very damaging. I like John Kerry, but that would not be helpful & it would be very problematic if it were true. But let’s wait and see how authentic this is.”…
If Zarif’s accounting is accurate, it would not be the first time that a top American official revealed classified information to a foreign adversary. In 2017, Trump reportedly discussed Israeli intelligence information during an Oval Office meeting with top Russian officials.
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26 Apr
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) calls for John Kerry’s resignation from the National Security Council. Sullivan says this is the first time he has called for a resignation.
Sullivan says Kerry is “arrogantly killing American jobs ... in the name of climate goals.”
On the Senate floor, Sullivan is now referencing the leaked tape of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif saying Kerry told him about covert Israeli operations against Iranian assets in Syria.
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12 Apr
New: McConnell talks with @politico about the unfinished business of his 36-year Senate career — a longtime fascination with Myanmar so vital to his identity that after the recent military coup, Biden coordinated the U.S. response with him.…
McConnell’s interest in Myanmar & friendship w/ Suu Kyi fly under the radar but it’s a defining aspect of a legacy he’s already cemented on judges & more.

The coup has elevated his role & influence even as he runs point on the opposition to Biden’s agenda…
“On the domestic front, I have not yet witnessed something that I’ve been happy about,” McConnell told me. “But in this area, I think their instincts are good. I think they’re trying to do the right thing.”

He hasn’t spoken w/ his longtime friend Aung San Suu Kyi since the coup.
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25 Mar
New: House moving to repeal 2002 Iraq war authorization today w/ bipartisan support. It’s the lowest-hanging fruit for proponents of reform, who now have an amenable White House & pure momentum on her side.

Enter the Senate filibuster.

w/ @connorobrienNH…
Even if Congress can repeal the Iraq AUMFs, crafting a replacement for the 2001 authorization will be a gargantuan task, w/ its unique complexities & the wide array of factions competing for influence.

“We’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go”…
Senators are skeptical of Biden’s openness to a new AUMF vote.

Cardin: “We have found a consistency among administrations not to be terribly cooperative in limiting their powers. Without the help of the Biden administration, it’s going to be challenging.”…
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12 Mar
NEWS: The Biden administration is readying new sanctions on Russia over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline amid bipartisan political pressure.

In classified Hill briefing, Blinken provided little clarity on what the admin will do.

w/ @NatashaBertrand @bjlefebvre…
Cruz is delaying nominees over lack of sanctions.

“I would be thrilled to lift the holds on the State Department nominees today if they would only follow the law and issue an interim report identifying all of the companies subject to mandatory sanctions.”…
“What I would like to see is the administration act expeditiously to stop the remaining section of the pipeline,” Sen. Shaheen (D-N.H.) told me.

But with 90% of it done, the worst outcome would be imposing tough sanctions only to see it finalized anyway.…
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11 Mar
New: Biden is under growing pressure from hawkish Republicans to use the 2022 Winter Olympics to punish the Chinese government over its human rights abuses.

But even within the GOP, there’s disagreement over how far to push.

w/ @nahaltoosi…
Some are pushing for an all-out boycott, but most worry it could backfire. A boycott only punishes the athletes, they say, and Biden should instead press IOC to move the games elsewhere.

At this late stage that’d be tough to pull off, @marcorubio told me…
This issue is also gaining traction among possible 2024 candidates.

Haley & Pompeo support a boycott.

Cruz says that’d be a “serious mistake” akin to U.S. boycotting ’80 Olympics.

Rick Scott has been pushing to move the games since 2019.…
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2 Mar
New: The White House is openly currying favor with Bob Menendez, the new Foreign Relations chairman who’s often to the right of his caucus on foreign policy & has a history of causing trouble for a Democratic president who crosses him.

w/ @nahaltoosi…
The Obama WH made the mistake of crossing Menendez on Iran and Cuba, and he used his power to make things difficult for Obama on the nuke deal & Cuba reset.

Menendez tells us that Biden is already abandoning the “Obama model,” to his great satisfaction.…
The “Obama model,” as Menendez called it, didn’t value Congress’ role in shaping U.S. foreign policy.

Both Jake Sullivan and Tony Blinken sent us on-the-record statements praising Menendez, showing they’re already working to keep him happy—& in the loop.…
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13 Feb
Wow, Ron Johnson picked a fight with Mitt Romney on the Senate floor just now after this witness vote, per pooler @jason_donner

“Ron Johnson turned to Mitt Romney and was upset with him, even pointing at him once. Johnson was visibly upset....”
“... They were going back and forth with Sullivan in the middle of them. I heard Johnson tell Romney ‘Blame you.’ Voices were definitely raised.”
For context: Dan Sullivan sits in between Johnson and Romney on the Senate floor.
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12 Feb
Sen. Cassidy (R-La.) asks both sides about the Tuberville-Trump call & Trump’s subsequent tweet.

“The tweet and lack of response suggests that President Trump did not care that Pence was in danger ... does this show that Trump was tolerant of the intimidation of Pence?”
Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen calls Tuberville’s account “hearsay” and blames the House for not investigating.
Raskin counters that the “evidence is in the sole possession of their client,” whom the managers invited to testify last week.
Read 4 tweets
9 Feb
Just left the Senate chamber, where I witnessed senators’ real-time reactions to that presentation. A few notes.

—Sen. Booker put his hands over his eyes when video played of shooting thru House door
—Several senators rubbed their eyes during footage of officer being crushed

—Sen. Manchin shook his head when Trump said “we love you” to the rioters.
Lots of facial expressions were difficult to decipher with masks covering them, but senators were intently watching the screens inside the chamber and reacting as if they were watching it for the first time.
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21 Jan
JUST IN: Group of Democratic senators files ethics complaint against Sens. Hawley and Cruz over the Jan. 6 insurrection, asking the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate any potential violations & punishments.…
Group includes Sens. Whitehouse, Wyden, Smith, Blumenthal, Hirono, Kaine, Brown.
The senators write: “When Sens. Ted Cruz & Josh Hawley announced they would object to the counting of state-certified electors on January 6, 2021, they amplified claims of election fraud that had resulted in threats of violence against state & local officials around the country.”
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29 Sep 20
🤔Ratcliffe just declassified to Graham a claim that Russian intel alleged that Clinton “approved a campaign plan to stir up a scandal against [Trump] by tying him to Putin and the Russians' hacking of the DNC.”

...but says “the IC does not know the accuracy of this allegation.” Image
It’s reasonable to ask why Graham and Ratcliffe would even put this out there if, as Ratcliffe acknowledges, “the IC does not know the accuracy of this allegation or the extent to which the Russian intelligence analysis may reflect exaggeration or fabrication.”
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23 Sep 20
Senate Republicans have released their “interim report” on their Hunter Biden investigation. We’ve read it—it’s largely a compilation of previously public assessments & news articles, some rehashed from the impeachment inquiry. Lots of media-bashing too.

Story TK w/ @kyledcheney Image
Read 5 tweets
22 Sep 20
Democrats have been calling on the Trump administration to resume election security briefings, and now that they’ve invoked the two-hour rule today, the first briefing in weeks is canceled.
However, Rubio told me earlier today that this election security briefing is TOMORROW, not today. Source says Rubio could have changed it from a hearing to a meeting. No functional difference because all of the Intel hearings are closed anyway.
And here is Rubio’s statement. Evanina was supposed to brief the committee today about *all* intel matters, so election security could have of course come up. Tomorrow’s briefing on election security is with DNI Ratcliffe. Image
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18 Sep 20
McConnell has repeatedly said he would move to fill a Supreme Court vacancy this year.…
SCHUMER: “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham on Ginsburg’s passing. No mention of potential confirmation fight before the end of the year. Image
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18 Sep 20
In convo w/ a right-wing blogger, Sen. Johnson hints his forthcoming report will cast doubt on the IC conclusion that Russia prefers Trump, accusing the FBI of “playing hide the ball and delay.”

I’ve not heard a single senator doubt the IC’s conclusion about Russia’s intentions.
This is baffling. We knew Sen. Johnson was investigating the Biden/Burisma issue in addition to the Obama WH’s actions during the presidential transition period, but he seems to be introducing a brand new unsubstantiated claim — that Russia isn’t actually trying to boost Trump.
After Rubio became Senate Intel chair, I asked him about Johnson’s investigations.

“If we hear or see something, I’ll encourage them to go read up on the intelligence they have access to. Ultimately, we can’t control what people decide to believe or say.”…
Read 4 tweets
10 Sep 20
.@politico exposed some of Derkach’s election meddling efforts in July. @NatashaBertrand @kyledcheney and I revealed that he sent packets of Biden dirt to top Trump allies on Capitol Hill.…
This is a seismic development. The president and his top officials have said China is the bigger threat to the election, but that’s not what lawmakers have been told; and now, Treasury has sanctioned a key Russian involved in that influence campaign.
Schiff says Derkach was “peddling this false information to Congress,” as we reported in July. Image
Read 5 tweets
3 Sep 20

Grassley & Johnson released a letter from Ratcliffe that they say undercuts our reporting on the July 13 classified annex about foreign disinformation/election interference.

We never reported that the IC created the annex; only that it “draws from” the IC’s analysis. 1/ ImageImage
Their press release falsely says our story about Derkach was based “solely” on unclassified open-source info. A few sentences later they say this info “does not indicate that he sent any material to Grassley”

We reported the annex states Derkach *did* send info to Grassley. 2/ Image
Ratcliffe’s letter:…

Our original story on what the annex says about Derkach’s actions:…

Read 4 tweets
29 Aug 20
BREAKING: ODNI will no longer brief House & Senate Intel committees in person on election security matters, sources tell @woodruffbets & me. Confirming @CNN @jaketapper…
The scale-back is due in part to recent leaks of classified material, intel & congressional sources tell us.…
ODNI official:

“We are concerned about unauthorized disclosures of sensitive information following recent briefings. The DNI is committed to ensuring Congress is fully and currently informed and that classified information is protected.”…
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28 Aug 20
NEW: Remarkably, Dems ignored any mention of impeachment as they sought to make the national-security case against Trump at their convention. This week, Republicans sought to weaponize impeachment ever so slightly.

Story w/ @kyledcheney on the dichotomy…
Dems agonized over impeachment for months, eventually unloading a ton of political capital on the effort. They argued Trump was a threat to the country.

All of that has essentially been overtaken by events — pandemic, economic collapse, racial injustice.…
“We’re talking life and death now, as opposed to trying to cheat and steal an election,” @danielsgoldman told us. “It would be a strong, winning message, but it pales in comparison to his complete ineptitude in dealing with Covid, which has resulted in 180,000 Americans dying.”
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