Senate and House Leaders Call for Inquiry of Russian Hacking in Election
WASHINGTON — Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, said on Monday that he supported congressional investigations of possible Russian cyberattacks to influence the American election, setting up a potential conflict with President-elect Donald J. Trump in the early days of his administration.
Mr. McConnell’s support for investigations is a major moment for the Republican-controlled Congress given that Mr. Trump has ridiculed and dismissed the findings of the American intelligence community that the Russians hacked the election.
The investigation, which will be driven by Senator Richard M. Burr, of North Carolina, the chairman of the intelligence committee, and by Senator John McCain, of Arizona, the chairman of the armed services committee, could last for months or more at the start of the new Trump administration. Many of the intelligence committee hearings will most likely be behind closed doors, but they will still generate wide interest.
Mr. McConnell stopped short of calling for a special select committee to investigate the claims of Russian hacking, saying that the inquiries could be conducted through normal committee channels. He also stopped short of saying whether he agreed that Russia interfered in the election in support of Mr. Trump. He repeatedly declined to address the president-elect’s attack on the Central Intelligence Agency.
Noting that “the Russians are not our friends,” Mr. McConnell said that he “strongly condemns” foreign hacking and that the Senate intelligence committee was “more than capable of conducting a complete review” of the matter. “We need to approach all these on the assumption the Russians do not wish us well,” he said.
Speaker Paul D. Ryan, in a statement, was even more forceful and said he supported an investigation in the House as well. “As I’ve said before, any foreign intervention in our elections is entirely unacceptable. And any intervention by Russia is especially problematic because, under President Putin, Russia has been an aggressor that consistently undermines American interests,” the statement said.
Mr. McCain said on Monday that there was “no doubt about the hacking” by Russian intelligence services and called for a wide-ranging investigation by congressional committees into Russian meddling.
Mr. McCain called hacking of the Democratic National Committee and related accounts “another form of warfare” in an appearance on Monday on “CBS This Morning” with Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the incoming Democratic leader.
Mr. McConnell, resolute in his silence on Mr. Trump for most of the campaign, now faces bipartisan pressure to take a stand on Russia’s interference in the election.
Republican Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida have both expressed concern about the reports of cyberattacks, as have numerous Democrats.
“Being a ‘friend of Vladimir’ is not an attribute I am hoping for from a #SecretaryOfState” Mr. Rubio wrote in a post on Twitter, an apparent reference to Rex W. Tillerson, the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, who is considered the front-runner to be Mr. Trump’s nominee for secretary of state.
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