Two House Democrats called Wednesday for the creation of a bipartisan national commission — modeled after the one that investigated the Sept. 11 terror attacks — to investigate foreign interference in the 2016 election.
But President-elect Donald Trump said Wednesday that he still rejects, as he did during the campaign, the publicly stated conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community that the Russian government “directed” cyberattacks against political organizations as part of an effort to “interfere with the U.S. election process.”
“I don’t believe it. I don’t believe they interfered,” Trump told Time in an interview that accompanied the magazine’s selection of him as “Person of the Year.” Asked by Time if he thought the conclusion of America’s spies was politically driven, Trump said, “I think so.”
Trump’s unyielding view would seem to make it less likely that there will be any sort of public probe. But Democrats are determined to press the issue, pointing to recent developments — including the alarming rise of fake news sites linked to Russia — that they argue make this a matter of bipartisan concern.
“Regardless of whether you voted for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or anyone else, Russia’s attacks on our election are an attempt to degrade our democracy and should chill every American — Democratic, Republican or independent — to the core,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking minority member on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. “Like the 9/11 commission, this commission will conduct a truly bipartisan and comprehensive review of these attacks and offer specific recommendations to prevent future attacks on our electoral process.”
Cummings and California Rep. Eric Swalwell, the ranking Democrat on the CIA subcommittee of the House Intelligence Committee, are introducing legislation Wednesday to create a “National Commission on Foreign Interference in the 2016 Election.” Like the 9/11 commission, the panel would be bipartisan and independent, with 12 commissioners appointed by congressional leaders from both parties. It would be charged with conducting a full-scale investigation into the cyberattacks against the Democratic National Committee and other political groups and leaders.
At the same time, Democrats are pressing the Obama administration to declassify more intelligence details on the attacks and requesting a classified briefing for all members of Congress. Some Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, have also said they believe the issue needs to be investigated.
“Here’s what I would tell Republicans,” Graham recently said. “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.”
Meanwhile, one of the Democratic leaders in the effort, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, ranking minority member on the House Intelligence Committee, blasted Trump on Wednesday for refusing to accept the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies about the Russian hacking and said his new remarks “carry water for the Kremlin.”
“Unable to accept the loss of the popular vote and unwilling to acknowledge the Russian role in hacking his opponent’s campaign, Trump is now peddling two fictions, that millions of illegal immigrants voted and the intelligence community is lying,” Schiff said. “Both are enormously damaging to the country.”