After years of political acrimony, some top U.S. Republican congressional leaders and President Barack Obama have finally agreed on how to approach a burgeoning issue confronting Washington: apparent Russian cyber meddling to influence the U.S. presidential election.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan Monday endorsed investigations into the election. “The Russians are not our friends,” McConnell said.
Ryan said the House probe “should not cast doubt” on Trump’s victory, but that foreign interference in a U.S. election is “entirely unacceptable” and Russian involvement is “especially problematic.”
President Obama, in an appearance Monday night on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” explained why he has ordered a thorough review of the Russian cyber attacks. “The reason I have called for a review is really to just gather all the threads of the investigations, the intelligence work that has been done over many months so that the public and our elected representatives going forward can find ways to prevent this kind of interference from having an impact on the elections in the future,” Obama said.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has concluded that Russia interfered in the final stretch of the presidential campaign to help Trump win the presidency, setting up a potential showdown with the president-elect, who has dismissed the CIA findings as “ridiculous.” Experts say Russians hacked the Republican and Democratic National Committees’ computer systems and disclosed embarrassing emails about the Democrats through WikiLeaks.
Congressional Democrats are also using the intelligence findings to make their own calls for an inquiry into the cyber attacks. Senators Benjamin Cardin, Dianne Feinstein and Patrick Leahy called Monday for the establishment of an independent panel to investigate the issue.
Trump has suggested that Democratic calls for investigations are nothing more than partisan political maneuvering. “Can you imagine if the election results were the opposite and WE tried to play the Russia/CIA card. It would be called conspiracy theory!” Trump said Monday on Twitter.
The president-elect has repeatedly praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, raising concerns in the U.S. intelligence community that he is disregarding potential threats to U.S. national security.