Concerns about Russian interference during the 2016 campaign are mounting, as lawmakers discuss the potential for a Congressional investigation.
Two Republicans and two Democrats called for an investigation into American intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russian hacking was intended to help President-elect Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton.
“Congress’s national security committees have worked diligently to address the complex challenge of cybersecurity, but recent events show that more must be done,” said Sens. Chuck Schumer, the incoming Senate Democratic leader, Sen. John McCain, the Armed Services Committee chairman, fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, and Sen. Jack Reed, the top Armed Services Committee Democrat, in a joint statement last week.
“While protecting classified material, we have an obligation to inform the public about recent cyberattacks that have cut to the heart of our free society. Democrats and Republicans must work together, and across the jurisdictional lines of the Congress, to examine these recent incidents thoroughly and devise comprehensive solutions to deter and defend against further cyber-attacks.”
The letter is an implicit rebuke of Trump, who has questioned whether Russia actually interfered with the election, including with hacks of Democratic operatives, and came two days after Trump sided with Russia over the CIA and attacked the US intelligence assessment of Russia’s role.
“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” Trump’s transition team said in a terse, unsigned statement targeting the CIA last Friday.
“The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again.'”
The transition team’s reference to the agency’s most humiliating recent intelligence misfire — over its conclusion that Iraq under Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction — threatens to cast an early cloud over relations between the Trump White House and the CIA, whose assessments he’ll need to make monumental decisions.
The top leadership of the agency that presided over the Iraq failure during the Bush administration has long since been replaced. But the comments from Trump’s camp will cause concern in the Intelligence community about the incoming President’s attitude to America’s spy agencies. CNN reported last week that Trump is getting intelligence briefings only once a week. Several previous presidents preparing for the inauguration had a more intense briefing schedule.
In the video above, Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) & Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) discuss the possibility of a Congressional investigation, and the President-elect's response to the situation.
"I do think it's incredibly important for us to make sure the American people have faith in the election process, so when there are claims of hacking, I think it's very important for us to investigate those... I'm pleased that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have endorsed the idea that an investigation needs to take place" said Brooks.
"When you have directives coming from Moscow, or a Presidential candidate making overtures during the campaign to 'hack the emails, hack them all,' that is the kind of gamesmanship that is poisonous," said Carson.
Carson also weighed in on Trump's intelligence briefing routine:
"Mr. Trump needs to be in those meetings... if you're going to take a laissez-faire approach to getting intelligence briefings because they sound redundant and you can't contain your ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), then that's problematic."