Republican Party leaders are facing national outrage after reports suggesting lawmakers doubted intelligence that Russia was trying to help Donald Trump win the White House. Anonymous sources leaking information to The Washington Post and The New York Times has put the pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republican lawmakers to comment on why they doubted CIA intelligence.
“I’ll be the first one to come out and point at Russia if there’s clear evidence, but there is no clear evidence — even now,” Rep. Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and member of Trump’s transition team, said.
“There’s a lot of innuendo, lots of circumstantial evidence, that’s it.”
The New York Times reports that the Republican National Committee was hacked by the Russians. But only materials hacked from the Democratic Party and members of Clinton’s campaign were released via WikiLeaks.
“Over the past several months, officials from the Republican committee have consistently said that their networks were not compromised, asserting that only the accounts of individual Republicans were attacked. On Friday, a senior committee official said he had no comment.”
Days before The Washington Post published the bombshell report, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham said they will lead a wide-ranging fight by Republican leaders to uncover Russia’s role in the outcome of the election — with or without Trump’s help.
“I’m going after Russia in every way you can go after Russia. I think they’re one of the most destabilizing influences on the world stage,” Graham told CNN.
“I think they did interfere with our elections, and I want Putin personally to pay the price.”
McCain said he suspects that Russia has the technology to hack U.S. weapons systems and will be working with Republican Senate Select Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr to investigate the Kremlin’s cyber activity.
“See, the problem with hacking is that if they’re able to disrupt elections, then it’s a national security issue, obviously,” McCain said in an interview with The Washington Post.
Senator Bob Corker, who’s reportedly on Trump’s shortlist for secretary of state, plans on holding hearings as Foreign Relations Committee Chairman next year to investigate the Russian hacks during the election.
McCain said there is little doubt that Russia was behind the leaked emails that dogged the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s run for president. Despite the intelligence suggesting otherwise, Trump has said as recently as this week that he’s still unconvinced the Russians are to blame.
In an interview with Time for his “Person of the Year” profile, Trump dismissed the notion that Russia hacked the DNC and John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chair.
“I don’t believe they interfered. That became a laughing point, not a talking point, a laughing point. Any time I do something, they say ‘oh, Russia interfered.'”
“Why not get along with Russia? And they can help us fight ISIS, which is both costly in lives and costly in money. And they’re effective and smart.”
“It could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.”
“I believe that it could have been Russia and it could have been any one of many other people. Sources or even individuals.”
President Obama has ordered a full review to be conducted and completed before he leaves office in January. If intelligence officials find irrefutable proof that Russia helped elect Trump, Republicans will be in a precarious position despite controlling the House and the Senate.
McConnell has refused to comment on the report suggesting he specifically doubted intelligence pointing to Russia trying to help Republicans win the White House, but his wife, Elaine Chao, will no doubt face tough questions during her Senate confirmation hearing before joining Trump’s cabinet as secretary of transportation.
[Featured Image by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]