Russia intervened in the 2016 presidential election in order to hurt former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chances and boost President-elect Donald Trump’s, according to an assessment by the CIA.
The CIA communicated its findings to congressional leaders in a secret briefing last week, according to reporting by the Washington Post. Intelligence agencies were concerned about Russian influence before the election, but Friday’s news was the first notice of expert consensus that the alleged Russian hacking was designed specifically to help elect Trump, rather than to more broadly undermine faith in the U.S. electoral process.
President Obama, in response, ordered the intelligence committee to conduct a “full review” of foreign cyber-interference around U.S. elections. That report, though, is on a tight deadline: Obama wants it finished by the time he leaves office January 20th. That may not be enough time for a full review.
Future president Donald Trump, in response to the news that Russia may have attempted to tip the election on his behalf, responded by issuing a statement attacking the CIA, calling the report “ridiculous” and “another excuse” in an interview with Fox News, and making insinuations on Twitter.
Measures begun by President Obama to investigate the hacking can be halted by President-elect Trump when he takes office. Consequently, responsibility for a public investigation falls to Congress.
Democrats in both chambers have been agitating for such an inquiry; on Wednesday, House Democrats introduced legislation to convene a bipartisan commission to look into the alleged Russian interference. This was before the updates were made public by the Washington Post, but after intelligence officials briefed key congressional leaders on their findings.
However, as both the House and Senate are under a Republican majority, Republican support for an investigation is essential. Many Republicans have been silent or even dismissive of the allegations.
Here are the Republican representatives who have spoken out in favor of an investigation. This list will be updated if more Republicans speak out.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Sen. Graham was one of the first, and has been one of the most vocal, Republicans in favor of an investigation. He told CNN on Wednesday that he believes Russia “did interfere with our elections.” He said that he would be pursuing investigations into the interference in his Senate subcommittees, and, after the Washington Post report, tweeted that he was concerned with Russia’s attempts to undermine democracy world wide.
Russia is trying to break the backs of democracies – and democratic movements – all over the world.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) December 10, 2016
Graham joined in on a bipartisan statement with Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Jack Reed (D-RI) on Sunday saying that “Democrats and Republicans must work together, and across the jurisdictional lines of the Congress, to examine these recent incidents thoroughly.”
“This cannot become a partisan issue. The stakes are too high for our country. We are committed to working in this bipartisan manner, and we will seek to unify our colleagues around the goal of investigating and stopping the grave threats that cyberattacks conducted by foreign governments pose to our national security.”
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
Sen. McCain joined Graham in the bipartisan letter calling for a unified Congressional response to the hacking.
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) December 11, 2016
On Face the Nation on Sunday, McCain indicated that he was flabbergasted by Trump’s dismissal of the CIA intelligence.
“I don’t know what to make of it because it’s clear the Russians interfered,” he said. “Whether they intended to interfere to the degree that they were trying to elect a certain candidate, I think that’s a subject of investigation. But facts are stubborn things. They did hack into this campaign.”
McCain specifically said that he wants the Senate to set up a special committee to investigate the allegations.
In an “ideal world,” he said, such a select committee would be convened and made up of leaders from the Senate Intelligence Committee, Foreign Relations Committee, and the Armed Services Committee.
Sen. James Lankford (R-OK)
Sen. Lankford Tweeted on Sunday that he supported the bipartisan statement put out by McCain, Reed, Grahamn, and Schumer.
— Sen. James Lankford (@SenatorLankford) December 11, 2016
Lankford stated on CNN that while he saw “absolutely no evidence” that the Russian interference extended to influencing the election results or vote-counting, but that there was evidence of attempted interference and campaign hacks.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)
Sen. Corker said in an interview with MSNBC’s Morning Joe that while he has “no proof,” he does believe that Russians were involved and that it was done to embarrass and discredit the U.S. electoral process.
“I think there’ll definitely be hearings,” he said. “I think people will take it seriously, and there will be numbers of hearings to truly understand what has occurred here.”
“The fact is that there’s nothing that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin would like more than to discredit the electoral process here in our country because, look, we in some ways helped discredit their process back in 2011,” said Corker. “What was unprecedented about this was the overt nature.”
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX)
While a very few other House Republicans have said that they believe Russia is behind the attacks, Rep. McCaul is thus far alone in openly calling for an investigation.
“We cannot allow foreign governments to interfere in our democracy,” McCaul said in a speech at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “When they do, we must respond forcefully, publicly and decisively.”
McCaul is a Trump supporter who has been floated as the potential new head of the Department of Homeland Security.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, by contrast, has equivocated on the issue.
Ryan issued a statement Monday saying that “any foreign intervention in our elections is entirely unacceptable” and that “we must condemn and push back forcefully against any state-sponsored cyberattacks on our democratic process.”
— Mike DeBonis (@mikedebonis) December 12, 2016
Ryan did not, however, explicitly express support for an investigation into the current allegations. He said that he supported the ongoing work of the existing House Intelligence Committee, but dinged calls for further action as “exploitation” of intelligence work for “partisan purposes.”
“As we work to protect our democracy from foreign influence, we should not cast doubt on the clear and decisive outcome of this election.”
In response to a reporter’s question on Twitter about the ambiguous statement, Ryan’s spokesperson Brendan Buck replied “yes, goodness,” to a question about whether Ryan supports a House Intelligence committee investigation. Buck, however, also framed it as a continuation of existing work, rather than a probe specifically into the new allegations.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
Sen. Paul backed calls for an investigation in an interview on ABC on Sunday.
“We need to get to the bottom of it. There should be an investigation,” he said. “It’s a little premature to talk about responses until we know what happened. But we should know what happened.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Senate Majority leader McConnell has previously been dismissive of the claims, according to reporting.
McConnell and other congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle were given a secure Intelligence briefing on the alleged Russian interference in September, according to the Washington Post. The Obama Administration was seeking a united, bipartisan response to the meddling. While Democrats in the room agreed with the administration’s request, McConnell raised doubts about the veracity of the intelligence.
According to officials involved in the meetings, McConnell said at the September briefing that he would consider attempts by the White House to publicly challenge the Russians an act of partisan politics from the White House.
Now, months later, McConnell gave a press conference on Monday stating that he is in support of a regular congressional investigation into Russian interference.
“The Russian government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. Persons and institutions, including from U.S. Political organizations” said McConnell, based on the findings of intelligence experts.
He adding that he considered any further allegations or disclosures to be “irresponsible, likely illegal, and potentially for partisan political gain.”
McConnell specifically said that he supported a review of the matter from within the normal bounds of the Congressional Intelligence committee, and rejected McCain’s call for a special investigation.
“Let me remind all of you that the Senate Intelligence Committee on which I and the chairman sit as ex-officio members, and Senator Schumer will join us on the committee, and he can review this matter through the regular order. I have every confidence in Chairman Burr that he’ll review it in a responsible way.”
“We’re going to follow the regular order,” he repeated.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)
Sen. Gardner said on Monday that “these allegations must be thoroughly investigated, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to address the sanctioning of Russia and specifically, bad actors identified following an investigation.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) December 12, 2016
Gardner also renewed his call for a permanent Select Committee on Cybersecurity.
This post has been updated with further reactions from Congressional Republicans.