After watching President-Elect Donald Trump reject the conclusions of the U.S. Intelligence Community on the involvement of Russia in cyber attacks related to the 2016 elections, the White House on Monday publicly pushed back against Mr. Trump, telling reporters there is “undisputed” evidence of Russian involvement that Congress must continue to investigate.
Just as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had done earlier in the day, White House spokesman Josh Earnest stood by an October assessment from U.S. Intelligence, which pointed the finger at Russia for email hacks of Democratic Party figures.
“They’ve concluded and reported to the American public that Russia was engaged in malicious cyber activity in an attempt to destabilize our political system,” Earnest told reporters at a briefing.
Earnest also made clear there was no doubt at the White House on who the Russians were trying to help.
“You didn’t need a security clearance to figure out who benefited from malicious Russian cyber activity,” Earnest added, as he turned his fire more directly on Mr. Trump.
“The President-Elect didn’t call it into question,” Earnest said. “He called on Russia to hack his opponent. He called on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton.”
Earnest pointedly told reporters he was not arguing with Mr. Trump or his supporters, saying he was just presenting facts as laid out by the Intelligence Community.
As for the President-Elect, he once again gave such stories the back of the hand, saying “it is very hard to determine who was doing the hacking.”
Trump supporters also had a field day with the story, accusing the news media and the Democrats of desperately trying to find anything that might have stopped Hillary Clinton from winning.
But there were more Republicans in Congress today who said the Russia situation should be reviewed by lawmakers.
“Yes, we should investigate cyber attacks and it should be bipartisan,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK).
“But there is still no evidence that Russia influenced election results,” Lankford added.
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), said his panel is already conducting “vigorous oversight” of any Russian cyber links to the U.S. elections.
Late in the day, Nunes asked the Director of National Intelligence to brief lawmakers by the end of the week on what they have found.
One thing that no one is seeing right now is any evidence that the results of the election were tampered with by anyone, whether Russia or someone else.
Democrats today were pushing for more that just a quick review, demanding a special independent panel to lead an investigation – that seemed unlikely to be accepted by the GOP.