A bipartisan quartet of high-profile senators said Sunday that “recent reports of Russian interference in our election should alarm every American.”
The group — 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 Sunday morning statement.
“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 on 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.'” Trump won 306 electoral votes, a comfortable margin above the 270 necessary but in the lower percentage of presidential victories over two centuries.
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.