The Washington Post
WASHINGTON — The Senate’s new top Democrat is vowing to keep any congressional investigation into Russia’s suspected election interference from devolving into partisan warfare.
“Just the facts,” is what incoming Senate minority leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., pledged any probe would focus on during a national television interview on Monday morning.
“We don’t want to point a finger and I don’t want this to turn into a Benghazi investigation, which seemed at least to many people to be highly political,” he told “CBS This Morning.” “This is serious stuff, when a foreign power tries to influence our election or damage our economy, for that matter. This is serious and it’s gotten worse. And a bipartisan investigation that’s not aimed at one specific instance but looks at the broad scope of this is just what’s needed.”
Schumer spoke out a day after he and Sens. Lindsey O. Graham, R-S.C., and John McCain, R-Ariz. — the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee — and Armed Services ranking Democrat Jack Reed, R.I., called for a thorough, bipartisan investigation of Russian influence in the U.S. elections. Their calls came after The Washington Post reported the CIA’s private conclusion that Russia’s activities were intended to tip the scales to help Trump.
“You have the CIA saying one thing — I haven’t gotten the briefings yet. The FBI is saying something else. We need to get to the bottom of this in a fair, nonpartisan, non-finger-pointing way,” Schumer told CBS, noting that he will not receive any top-level intelligence briefings until he is formally installed as a Senate leader early next year.
McCain, joining the interview from Arizona, said that based on information he’s seen so far he cannot say for certain that he believes the CIA’s assessment that Russia intervened in the election to benefit Trump. But, he added, “there’s no doubt about the hacking — let’s establish that.”
“I was hacked into, my campaign in 2008 was hacked into, so there’s no doubt about the hacking. Then the question is about the intention. But it’s all about the larger issue about the cyber threat we face from Russia, China and other countries. It’s another form of warfare and the entire issue is going to be investigated by the Armed Services Committee because it’s a threat to our national security,” McCain told CBS.
McCain also said he has no information on whether Russia hacked the Republican National Committee — a point strongly disputed by party leaders who say they’ve seen no evidence of such an intrusion.
“We do not know what they have done. There’s good evidence they’ve hacked into the DNC,” McCain said.
The quartet of senators issued a joint statement on Sunday morning, saying that “Recent reports of Russian interference in our election should alarm every American. 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.”
Since then, other senators, including James Lankford, R-Okla., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., have expressed support for a broad investigation. But Lankford said on Sunday he’s seen no evidence of Russia tampering with election results.
Other Republicans may be reluctant to support a wide-ranging investigation into Russia’s election-related activities given that President-elect Donald Trump has dismissed the CIA claims as “ridiculous.”
“I think it’s just another excuse. I don’t believe it … No, I don’t believe it at all,” Trump said of the CIA charges on “Fox News Sunday.” Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway echoed her boss on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” saying that such allegations from the intelligence community were “laughable and ridiculous.”