Sus­pected Rus­sian vote med­dling to get ‘close look’

White House heeds plea of Se­nate Democrats who claim new in­for­ma­tion

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY DAVE BOYER

The White House said Thursday that it would re­view a re­quest by Democrats on the Se­nate Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence to make pub­lic new in­for­ma­tion point­ing to Rus­sian med­dling in the U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, but it hasn’t changed the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s view that Don­ald Trump’s vic­tory was free of tam­per­ing.

“We’ll cer­tainly take quite se­ri­ously the con­cerns that they’ve raised and the re­quests that they have made,” said White House press sec­re­tary Josh Earnest. “And we’ll take a close look at it.”

But he noted that U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies and the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity “did not ob­serve an in­crease in ma­li­cious cy­ber­ac­tiv­ity on Elec­tion Day from the Rus­sians that was di­rected at dis­rupt­ing the cast­ing or count­ing of bal­lots.”

“I think if that is some­thing that had oc­curred, we prob­a­bly would have spent a lot more time talk­ing about it over the last three weeks,” he said.

Seven Democrats on the Se­nate in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee sent a let­ter to Pres­i­dent Obama on Wed­nes­day, ask­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion to de­clas­sify more in­for­ma­tion about Russia’s sus­pected in­ter­fer­ence in the U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

“We be­lieve there is ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion con­cern­ing the Rus­sian Govern­ment and the U.S. elec­tion that should be de­clas­si­fied and re­leased to the pub­lic,” said the law­mak­ers, led by Sen. Ron Wy­den of Ore­gon. “We are con­vey­ing specifics through clas­si­fied chan­nels.”

The ad­min­is­tra­tion ac­cused Russia of hack­ing into Demo­cratic Party op­er­a­tions and email ac­counts in an ef­fort to dis­rupt the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. It said there was also ev­i­dence of hack­ing ear­lier this year into states’ elec­tion sys­tems.

Democrats also have ac­cused Mr. Trump of hav­ing a cozy re­la­tion­ship with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, sug­gest­ing the hack­ing was part of an ef­fort by Moscow to sway the elec­tion in Mr. Trump’s fa­vor. Mr. Trump has strongly re­jected claims of any ties with Russia or Mr. Putin, nor has he blamed Russia for the hack­ing.

Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency Direc­tor Mike Rogers has said he doesn’t be­lieve the pub­li­ciz­ing of hacked emails from the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee changed the out­come of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. But the con­tro­versy has per­sisted while Green Party can­di­date Jill Stein is fund­ing re­counts in Wis­con­sin, Michi­gan and Penn­syl­va­nia, where the pres­i­den­tial con­test was close.

Sen. Jeanne Sha­heen, New Hamp­shire Demo­crat, re­newed her call Wed­nes­day for a Se­nate hear­ing to ex­am­ine the for­eign pol­icy im­pli­ca­tions of Russia’s in­ter­fer­ence in the elec­tion.

“These Rus­sian ac­tions are un­prece­dented in our post-Cold War re­la­tion­ship,” she told the top Repub­li­cans and Democrats on the For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee. “The se­ri­ous­ness of Russia’s be­hav­ior and its rel­e­vance to the For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee merit a full com­mit­tee hear­ing on this is­sue, per­haps sup­ple­mented by a clas­si­fied brief­ing.”

Mr. Obama’s spokesman said the ad­min­is­tra­tion has co­op­er­ated with con­gres­sional over­sight on the mat­ter, and he ex­pressed hope that the in­com­ing Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion will do the same.

“What was true be­fore the elec­tion is that there was a con­clu­sion that was reached by the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity that there were a va­ri­ety of ma­li­cious ef­forts un­der­taken by Russia in cy­berspace that were aimed at try­ing to dis­rupt or desta­bi­lize or shake the Amer­i­can peo­ple’s con­fi­dence in our po­lit­i­cal sys­tem,” Mr. Earnest said. “And that’s not an in­signif­i­cant mat­ter. And it cer­tainly was treated quite se­ri­ously and has been treated quite se­ri­ously by this ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Sen. Ron Wy­den of Ore­gon and other Democrats say in­for­ma­tion about Moscow and the U.S. elec­tion should be clas­si­fied and re­leased to the pub­lic.

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