WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) — The one-sided campaign by President-elect Donald Trump against the CIA continued Monday as he slammed the agency’s reported findings that Russian leaders directed a coordinated effort to undermine Hillary Clinton and help Trump win the 2016 election.
“The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter,” reported The Washington Post.
The president-elect refused to accept Russia’s widely confirmed activities to destabilize American democracy and assert its will abroad, arguing online that, “Unless you catch ‘hackers’ in the act, it is very hard to determine who was doing the hacking,” and asked, “Why wasn’t this brought up before election?”
It was, in fact, an issue covered heavily throughout the election — and repeatedly dismissed by the Trump campaign.
Media immediately began tweeting back to Trump with a number of instances in which the Russian plot to influence the election were detailed extensively.
The incoming president tried to frame the revelations as a political game of gotcha in which bitter Democrats wielded intelligence reports like weapons against an electoral victor.
The intelligence community offers the president-elect a daily briefing, including issues related to Russia, but he has refused most of the sessions, explaining, “I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years.”
Meanwhile, Trump says the CIA’s conclusions look like “just another excuse” for Clinton’s loss.
Top Republicans disagree with Trump’s premature conclusion that the CIA is engaged in politics, and have called for a thorough bipartisan investigation into Russia’s role in the hacking and leaking of correspondence by top Democratic entities and operatives.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., publicly endorsed a congressional investigation of Russia’s involvement on Monday at the Capitol, saying, “I have the highest confidence in the intelligence community, especially the Central Intelligence Agency.”
While McConnell foresees the probes being carried out by the Senate Intelligence Committee and Senate Armed Services Committee, other members have suggested the creation of a special committee (like the House committee that investigated Benghazi).
On Monday, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and incoming Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., made the morning television rounds to push for a detailed inspection of Russian subterfuge.
Schumer and McCain were also party to a joint statement issued with Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Jack Reed, D-R.I., warning that “Recent reports of Russian interference in our election should alarm every American.”
One issue that led the CIA to its conclusion and will likely be investigated by Congress is why Republicans were spared the brunt of Russian-based leaks which plagued Democrats for months leading up to Election Day.
The New York Times noted that the FBI fingered Russia in the hacking activity, but didn’t assign a motive. The CIA took other factors into account.
They based that conclusion, in part, on another finding — which they say was also reached with high confidence — that the Russians hacked the Republican National Committee’s computer systems in addition to their attacks on Democratic organizations, but did not release whatever information they gleaned from the Republican networks.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., spoke out in favor of expanded investigations on Monday afternoon, saying in part, “…any intervention by Russia is especially problematic because, under President Putin, Russia has been an aggressor that consistently undermines American interests.”
Incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus suggested that his team would be comfortable with a congressional investigation.
“I support anything that we can do, including investigations and otherwise, to protect Americans from foreign interference,” Priebus said on ABC, adding “I think the president-elect supports anything we can do.”
Congress returns to Washington in January 2017 and could launch their reviews shortly thereafter.
Follow Chance Seales on Twitter: @ChanceSeales