President-elect Donald Trump has rejected reports that Russia interfered with the U.S. election to help him defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. But lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic parties have called for a full investigation. They say the reports “should alarm every American.”
According to U.S. officials, the CIA has identified people with connections to the Russian government who they say stole private information from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton campaign. The information included thousands of hacked emails from the DNC and from Clinton’s campaign chairman. It was given to WikiLeaks, an international organization that publishes secret information and news leaks. WikiLeaks made the emails public throughout the election. Some of the stolen information cast doubts on Clinton’s honesty and trustworthiness, which may have helped boost support for Trump.
The CIA shared its findings with key senators in Washington, D.C., last week. But on Friday, Trump’s transition team released a statement that dismissed the report.
“These are the same people that said [Iraq’s former leader] Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” the statement said, referring to reports that led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. No such weapons were found in the country.
“The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history,” the statement continued. “It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again’.”
In a December 11 television interview, Trump called the report “ridiculous.” He said that the Democrats “are putting [this story] out because they suffered one of the greatest defeats in the history of politics in this country.” (While it is true that Trump had a decisive Electoral College victory, Clinton received nearly 3 million more popular votes than Trump did.)
Some members of Trump’s team, as well as his likely choice for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, have ties to Russia. That is a concern to many U.S. lawmakers, who note that Trump himself may have various business connections to the country.
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President Barack Obama has ordered a “full review” of Russian efforts to affect the outcome of the election, his Homeland Security advisor Lisa Monaco said on Friday. She added that intelligence officials are expected to complete their review by January 20, the day of Trump’s inauguration. The report will be submitted to members of Congress.
Meanwhile, some Republican and Democratic senators have united in an effort to learn more about Russia’s involvement in the hacking and to prevent incidents like it from happening in the future.
Republican senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, joined with Democrats Charles Schumer of New York, and Jack Reed of Rhode Island, to release a statement on Sunday. They said lawmakers from both parties must work together “to examine these recent incidents thoroughly and devise [complete] solutions to deter and defend against further cyberattacks.”
“This cannot become a partisan issue,” the senators said. “The stakes are too high for our country.”