- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 17, 2016

Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate are calling for congressional investigation of Russia’s alleged meddling in the U.S. presidential election.

On Thursday, Rep. Elijah Cummings, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s ranking Democrat, called on his colleagues to conduct a bipartisan probe into Russia’s reported actions during a meeting Wednesday with the panel’s chairman, Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican, according to letter released by Mr. Cummings’ office Thursday.

On the heels of a similar request made earlier this week by Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have now urged Congress to investigate claims concerning Russia’s reported use of computer intrusions and email leaks to interfere in the White House race, notwithstanding repeated denials echoed by Moscow.

“Elections are the bedrock of our nation’s democracy. Any attempt by a foreign power to undermine them is a direct attack on our core democratic values, and it should chill every Member of Congress and American — red or blue — to the core,” Mr. Cummings wrote in Thursday’s letter to Mr. Chaffetz where he pushed further for an inquiry following Wednesday’s meeting.

“I believe the public deserves a full and open accounting of this matter — one that we are uniquely positioned to provide,” the Democrat from Baltimore wrote. 

The entirety of the Oversight Committee should be briefed by U.S. intelligence officials on the classified details concerning Russia’s alleged election meddling, Mr. Cummings said. Afterwards, he added, the panel could begin “a robust investigation designed to identify specific recommendations for actions that our country can take to respond to these attacks and safeguard against similar attacks in the future.”

In the Senate, meanwhile, Mr. Graham told reporters earlier this week that he wanted his colleagues to hold a series of hearings on “Russia’s misadventures throughout the world,” including specifically any involvement with recent election-related cyberattacks.

“Here’s what I would tell Republicans: We cannot sit on the sidelines as a party and let allegations against a foreign government interfering in our election process go unanswered because it may have been beneficial to our cause,” Mr. Graham told reporters Tuesday, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The head of the National Security Agency said at a separate event Tuesday that the hacking of Democratic National Committee computers and the subsequent publication of stolen emails prior to the general election were most certainly done by a foreign government, reiterating the Obama administration’s determination that the Kremlin conducted the campaign.

“There shouldn’t be any doubt in anybody’s minds,” NSA director Adm. Mike Rogers said Tuesday of the DNC breach. “This was not something that was done casually. This was not something that was done by chance. This was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily. This was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect.”

Adm. Rogers’ remarks and related remarks attributed to Republican members of the House and Senate are all cited in Mr. Cummings’ letter to the committee chairman sent Thursday.

“Over the course of your chairmanship, we have had our differences on certain issues, but this should not be one of them,” Mr. Cummings wrote. “This perilous menace goes beyond party, beyond politics and beyond partisanship. Although these attacks were executed to harm the Democratic candidate for president on this occasion, Russia’s actions sow doubts about our entire elections system and merit a robust congressional investigation.”

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and Department of Homeland Security said in a joint-statement last month that U.S. officials were confident the Russian government had “directed the recent compromises of emails from US persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations.” Security researchers have since shared evidence said to link a state-sponsored hacking group in Russia with cyberattacks waged against dozens of members of the DNC and the Democratic party.

“Does anyone seriously think Russia can somehow influence the choice of the U.S. people? Is the U.S. some kind of banana republic?” Russian President Vladimir Putin responded last month.

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