A bipartisan group of United States Senators, including former Presidential nominee John McCain (R-Ariz.), current chair of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the ranking Democrat on that committee, have issued a joint statement that the allegations of Russian interference with the Presidential election are of the highest concern and “cannot become a partisan issue.” Their statements follow shortly after President-Elect Donald Trump dismissed the concerns as “ridiculous” and “just another excuse” from his opponents.
According to a report from The Atlantic, a group of Senators isn’t having any of it. The group, which also includes Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), another member of the Armed Services Committee, and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the incoming Democratic minority leader, stated unequivocally that “Democrats and Republicans must work together, and across the jurisdictional lines of the Congress,” to investigate the allegations of Russian interference.
“Now our democratic institutions have been targeted. Recent reports of Russian interference in our election should alarm every American.
“We are committed to working in this bipartisan manner.”
And while the statement stopped short of suggesting that they would question the results of the recent election, they promised to dedicate themselves to “examine these recent incidents thoroughly” and further beef up America’s counter-cyberattack measures.
While relatively benign, their statement puts them in direct conflict with the stated views of Trump and his staff — although it bears mentioning that Trump’s incoming chief-of-staff, Reince Priebus, suggested that the President-elect would not be opposed to Congressional inquiries.
But Politico suggests that this could set the stage for later clashes between Trump and Congress, with other House Republicans joining the call for a probe into the allegations. Others note that, in some ways, the split mirrors a seeming split on the issue between the CIA and the FBI; while both believe that there is evidence of Russian involvement, the FBI has been much more wary of pointing the finger, wanting more solid, physical evidence. The CIA, meanwhile, as an intelligence agency rather than law-enforcement, has been far more comfortable drawing conclusions based on motive, intent and behavior — a divide in which Trump has consistently come down on the side of the FBI, suggesting that, in the absence of solid evidence, any number of plausible explanations for the discrepancies exist — including the idea that he simply had “a massive landslide victory, as you know, in the Electoral College.”
That last isn’t true, incidentally; on Electoral College margin, Trump’s victory ranks 46th out of 58 elections.
Trump also suggested on Fox News Sunday that any actual evidence of hacking could, he felt, point back to anywhere at all.
“Nobody really knows, and hacking is very interesting. Once they hack, if you don’t catch them in the act you’re not going to catch them. They have no idea if it’s Russia or China or somebody. It could be somebody sitting in a bed some place.”
That, of course, is also not the full truth. While he’s not wrong that it’s significantly more difficult to trace a cyber attack than a physical one, cyberforensics experts have a number of ways to narrow down the vector of an attack or the source of a file. For example, as reported by Politico, security experts found significant examples of Russian involvement left behind in the DNC email leak, including error messages in Cyrillic and call-backs to an IP address previously used by Russian intelligence.
“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 while Russia continues to vehemently deny any involvement whatsoever in the American political process, the evidence continues to mount; as USA Today reports, 17 intelligence agencies have now concluded that Russia was involved with the email hacks. The intelligence community at large believes that Russia interfered significantly with the democratic process. And now, it seems that the Senate is onboard as well.
“Recent reports of Russian interference in our election should alarm every American.
“This cannot become a partisan issue. The stakes are too high for our country.”
Update: New reports are coming in that Sen. Lankford (R-OK.), Sen. Corker (R-TN.), and Rep. McCaul (R-TX.) have joined the call for an investigation.
[Featured Image by Win McNamee/Getty Images]