The Slatest

Key Bipartisan Senators: Reports of Russian Election Meddling Should “Alarm Every American”

Sens. John McCain, left, and Chuck Schumer take questions from the media at a news conference on immigration reform April 18, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

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Four high-profile senators are sending a message that they aren’t ready to simply brush off reports that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election. The “stakes are too high” and getting to the bottom of this is more important than party allegiances, said the senators in a rare joint statement released Sunday morning. “Democrats and Republicans must work together, and across the jurisdictional lines of the Congress, to examine these recent incidents thoroughly and devise comprehensive solutions to deter and defend against further cyberattacks,” said the statement from Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz.; committee member Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; incoming Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.; and Armed Services Committee ranking member Jack Reed, D-R.I.

Hacking by foreign governments is hardly a new phenomenon but the latest reports take things to a new level. “For years, foreign adversaries have directed cyberattacks at America’s physical, economic, and military infrastructure, while stealing our intellectual property. Now our democratic institutions have been targeted,” the senators said. “Recent reports of Russian interference in our election should alarm every American.”

It’s difficult not to see the statement as a rebuke of President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team. Shortly after the Washington Post first published the explosive piece Friday saying that the CIA believed Russia set up an operation to influence the election in Trump’s favor, the president-elect’s team dismissed the report. “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” Trump’s transition team said in a statement.

In an interview broadcast Sunday, Trump also dismissed the allegations, saying they were “ridiculous” and all part of an effort by Democrats to undermine his victory. The divergent statement “sets the stage for a possible showdown over how far Congress goes to investigate Russia’s apparent interference in the election,” notes Politico.

In a press conference, Schumer said any investigation shouldn’t just be limited to the election but must also examine whether foreign powers have been stealing intellectual property from the United States. “What the four of us intend this investigation to look at is foreign governments hacking into American institutions, government and otherwise,” he said.