Donald Trump has claimed over and over again that his campaign had no interactions with the Kremlin throughout the election season, despite statements from some inside the operation that claim otherwise. There were major concerns that Russian hackers were attempting to infiltrate U.S. elections systems in order to provide an advantage to Trump in key states. Then there were the leaks of DNC emails, which painted the Democrats in a negative light and boosted Trump’s appeal among swing voters. Certainly, this Russian interference is no small matter, as foreign involvement and intervention in a U.S. election would undermine the democratic processes upon which this nation was founded and has continued to thrive for centuries. As such, the U.S. intelligence community put out a report in October claiming that they had reason to believe “that senior levels of the Russian government had directed the hacking of Democratic political groups in the US and release of information from them with the intent of influencing the US election” (CNN). A recent report from The Washington Post found that the CIA concluded that Russia did not only aim to interfere, but they actually aimed to have Trump elected.
Now, months after the intelligence community released its report, and with a little more than five weeks before Trump takes office, a bipartisan team of senators has called for a formal investigation into the potential Russian interference in the recent election. Among those calling for this investigation is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has split with Trump in saying that he has "the highest confidence in the intelligence community, and especially the Central Intelligence Agency." John McCain is also among those leading the push for the investigation, saying this morning that "it's another form of warfare and the entire issue is going to be examined by the Armed Services Committee because it's a threat to our national security."
The movement has also picked up steam in the House, as Speaker Paul Ryan released a statement in favor of the investigation as a result of Russian aggression in recent years. “As I’ve said before, any foreign intervention in our elections is entirely unacceptable. And any intervention by Russia is especially problematic because, under President Putin, Russia has been an aggressor that consistently undermines American interests.”
In contrast, Mr. Trump has denounced the report and the intelligence community that raised the issue. "I think it's just another excuse. I don't believe it," he said in an interview yesterday. Trump’s transition team went so far as to condemn the intelligence officials who work around the clock to gather crucial information to maintain U.S. interests at home and abroad. "These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," read one of the statements released by the team.
Trump then tweeted his own condemnation for the potential investigation, writing, "unless you catch "hackers" in the act, it is very hard to determine who was doing the hacking. Why wasn't this brought up before election?"
What is ironic about Trump’s resistance toward the CIA and other intelligence agencies is that he is personally not taking many steps to bring himself up to speed on key issues for U.S. international policy. Reports find that he is only taking one briefing per week and having Pence receive the daily briefings, which breaks U.S. precedent and has angered politicians across the board. Representative Adam Schiff tweeted that "if Trump was as smart as he keeps telling us, he would appreciate all he has to learn.”
What do you think of the investigation? What do you think about Trump’s response?