12.13.16

POLITICO: Senate Democrats seek pre-inauguration investigation of Russian meddling

Nine Senate Democrats on Tuesday asked the Obama administration to finish and publicly release a formal intelligence assessment on Russian interference in the election before Donald Trump's inauguration.

In a letter to Obama's director of national intelligence, James Clapper, the Democrats called for a "conclusive, public" report on Russian intervention on behalf of Trump before the president-elect takes office. The push comes as Democrats are also demanding a broad, bipartisan congressional investigation following reports that the CIA found evidence that Russian agents were trying to tilt the election in Trump's favor. So far, GOP leaders have opted to steer the issue through regular committee channels.

"We know that Russia continues to make a concerted effort to undermine democratic institutions in the West and we fear we have fallen victim to their agenda," the Democratic senators, led by Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), wrote to Clapper. "Such an attack on the United States must not go undisclosed."

Last Friday, President Barack Obama ordered a detailed assessment of the cyberattacks that plagued this year's election — and he's asked the intelligence community to deliver the final report before he leaves office. If the agencies can finish their work on time, and the results become public, the incoming Trump administration could have to deal with conclusive revelations that a foreign power successfully altered the trajectory of the Nov. 8 election just days before Trump's inauguration.

The Democrats also asked Attorney General Loretta Lynch to affirm that an investigation into the issue is being conducted by nonpartisan career staff at the Department of Justice. Although DOJ does not typically confirm the existence of ongoing probes, the Democrats called on Lynch to break with that precedent and state openly "that a criminal investigation into these matters is underway or will immediately be opened."

The Senate letters were signed by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Ed Markey (D-Mass.). Senior House Democrats also jointly called for a sweeping bipartisan investigation on Tuesday, with Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) releasing a statement alongside six senior Democrats.

“Given the gravity of these unprecedented attacks by a foreign state, we need a congressional investigation that is truly bipartisan, that is comprehensive, that will not be restricted by jurisdictional lines, and that will give the American people a complete and full accounting of what happened consistent with safeguarding our national security," the House Democrats said. Alongside Hoyer, the statement was issued by the ranking Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, Judiciary, Veterans Affairs, Oversight, and Homeland Security Committees.


By:  ELANA SCHOR
Source: POLITICO