The CIA believes the Russian government intervened to help President-elect Donald Trump win the election. American intelligence and law enforcement officials have circumstantial, though voluminous, evidence pointing to Russian influence. The matter is so serious that even Republican leaders have called for a congressional investigation into the matter.
But President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly dismissed the findings.
Now, a bipartisan group of 10 members of the Electoral College are calling on U.S. intelligence agencies to provide them with an intelligence briefing about Russian interference on behalf of Trump before they convene on December 19.
In a letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, the electors — nine Democrats and one anti-Trump Republican — demand more information about the investigations into Russian cyberattacks and “a comprehensive propaganda campaign coordinated through Wikileaks and other outlets.”
“To fulfill our role as Electors, we seek an informed and unrestrained opportunity to fulfill our constitutional role leading up to December 19th — that is, the ability to investigate, discuss, and deliberate with our colleagues about whom to vote for in the Electoral College,” the statement read in part. “We further require 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.”
The electors also called on Trump to provide “conclusive evidence that he and his staff and advisers did not accept Russian interference” and to promise that he would disavow any collaboration moving forward.
The news comes on the heels of U.S. intelligence officials concluding with “high confidence” that Russia, which may have provided Wikileaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and other high-profile Democrats, helped to not only undermine trust in the U.S. electoral system, but also intended to help Trump win.
The 10 electors — none of them Trump supporters — likely won’t do much to dissuade the full 538-member Electoral College from meeting in their state capitols on December 19 and selecting Trump as the next president. But at least one Republican member of the Electoral College has already announced he won’t support Trump, in part citing the president elect’s decision to retain ownership over his business empire. That elector, Chris Suprun of Texas, is one of the electors whose name appears on the letter to Clapper.
Electors aren’t the only people worried about Russian interference in the U.S. elections. Leading Republican congressional members including Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have joined Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to call for a bipartisan investigation.
On Monday, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign released a statement supporting the electors’ call for an intel briefing. According to Politico’s Shane Goldmacher, it is the first such statement from the campaign to question the legitimacy of Trump’s election win. Top Clinton adviser John Podesta said that the intelligence community’s findings “should distress every American.”
“The bipartisan electors’ letter raises very grave issues involving our national security,” Podesta said in the statement. “Electors have a solemn responsibility under the Constitution and we support their efforts to have their questions addressed.”
“Each day that month, our campaign decried the interference of Russia in our campaign and its evident goal of hurting our campaign to aid Donald Trump,” he added. “Despite our protestations, this matter did not receive the attention it deserved by the media in the campaign. We now know that the CIA has determined Russia’s interference in our elections was for the purpose of electing Donald Trump. This should distress every American.”
UPDATE: As of Tuesday morning, 19 more Democratic members of the Electoral College added their names to the letter to support calls for an intelligence briefing before December 19, Politico reported.