WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday accused the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee of leaking information about Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2020 election, dismissed the intelligence as “exaggerated” and refused to acknowledge that Moscow was behind similar efforts in 2016.
“I can’t imagine that people are not going to go after them and find out what’s happening,” Mr. Trump said, referring to the committee, led by Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, a longtime foil of the president’s.
Mr. Trump also said that he did not plan on saying anything controversial during the news conference at the end of his visit to India.
When details about the persistence of Russia’s efforts related to 2020 were revealed last week, including new information about Moscow’s efforts to influence the Democratic primaries, Mr. Trump was particularly bothered that officials would tell Mr. Schiff, who led the impeachment efforts against the president and is entitled to these briefings as part of his oversight role.
“Schiff leaked it, in my opinion — and he shouldn’t be leaking things like that,” Mr. Trump said without evidence, responding to a question about recent intelligence briefings about Russia’s meddling in the upcoming election.
Mr. Trump made a similar accusation last week and also called for an investigation into Mr. Schiff, to which Mr. Schiff responded: “Your false claims fool no one.”
The president’s deflection Tuesday of questions from reporters about the threat from Russia and the ominous remark about “going to go after” lawmakers were extraordinary, not only because of the potential impact on American democracy, but also because he pledged not to say anything controversial, as he had previously done at the end of other foreign trips.
“I’m going to be not at all controversial, because I don’t want to blow the two days plus two days of travel on one answer — one little answer,” Mr. Trump warned reporters in brief remarks before he took questions.
The news media, he said, would take something small and “blow it out, and that would be the end of the trip. They won’t even talk about the trip. I will be very, very conservative with my answers if you don’t mind.”
Minutes later, he accused Mr. Schiff of leaking intelligence.