Just two days after President-elect Donald Trump dismissed reports that the CIA had found evidence that Russian hackers had attempted to influence the presidential election in his favor as partisan sour grapes, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are calling for a full investigation and some members of the Electoral College are requesting an intelligence briefing.
“Obviously any foreign breach of our cyber security measures is disturbing, and I strongly condemn any such efforts,” Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said at a press conference in Washington.
His voice joined a chorus that includes Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Sen. Joe Walsh, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-.N.Y.) Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman McCain and Schumer, who will be Senate Democratic Leader when Congress reconvenes next year have already announced their intention to conduct a bipartisan investigation.
And, in an open letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, 10 Electors, troubled by reports of Russian meddling and Trump’s response the CIA assessment, said they “require to know from the intelligence community whether there are ongoing investigations into ties between Donald Trump, his campaign or associates, and Russian government interference in the election, the scope of those investigations, how far those investigations may have reached, and who was involved in those investigations.”
They also requested “a briefing on all investigative findings, as these matters directly impact the core factors in our deliberations of whether Mr. Trump is fit to serve as President of the United States.”
Allegations that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and other organizations and people associated with the Democratic Party, punctuated the presidential election cycle, coming up on the campaign trail and during all three presidential debates.
Indeed that the steady flow of emails by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange were nicked from Clinton’s account as well as those of her Campaign Chairman John Podesta and other Clinton confidante lent credence to the notion that the former Secretary of State was targeted and that her opponent Trump might benefit. Assange has denied a Russian connection.
Early assessments of the hacks at the DNC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) made by CrowdStrike, Fidelis and ThreatConnect found links to Russian APT groups Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear. Dell SecureWorks, an Atlanta-based security company, was tracking GRU activity for more than a year, also found that the hackers were using a popular URL-shortening site, Bitly, as they sent out their malicious links in phishing campaigns intended to get targets to click on fake Google login sites to dupe them into providing their email credentials.
The Washington Post reported that a secret CIA assessment found Russia mucked with the election to help Trump win, citing anonymous sources, shortly after President Obama ordered the intelligence community to conduct a “full review” of potential Russian interference and deliver a report before he leaves office January 20.
Despite Trump’s claims on Fox News Today Sunday that “they have no idea if it’s Russia or China or somebody…it could be somebody sitting in a bed some place,” McCain, during a joint appearance with Schumer on CBS News, said, there was “no doubt about the hacking” and called for a bipartisan initiative “to uncover the whole situation.”
But the Trump team continued to shrug off the CIA assessment, with transition team spokesperson Jason Miller telling reporters that the prospective investigations were an attempt to “delegitimize President-elect Trump’s win.”