Top Republicans back probe into Russian hacking in US election

A billboard of Mr Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the town of Danilovgrad in central Montenegro. According to US intelligence, Moscow had intervened in the US election on Mr Trump's behalf.
A billboard of Mr Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the town of Danilovgrad in central Montenegro. According to US intelligence, Moscow had intervened in the US election on Mr Trump's behalf.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON • The top two Republicans in Congress have said they support investigations into possible Russian cyber attacks to influence the US election, setting up a potential confrontation with President-elect Donald Trump in his first days in office.

"Any foreign breach of our cyber security measures is disturbing, and I strongly condemn any such efforts," said Senator Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican and the Senate Majority Leader, adding that "the Russians are not our friends".

Mr McConnell's support for investigating US intelligence findings that Moscow intervened in the election on Mr Trump's behalf presages possible friction between the Republicans who control Congress, and who have long taken a hard line against Russia, and the President-elect, who has mocked the findings.

Mr McConnell also went out of his way to address Mr Trump's claim that the CIA could not be trusted because of flawed intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war.

"Let me say that I have the highest confidence in the intelligence community, and especially the Central Intelligence Agency," he said.

NOT FRIENDS

Any foreign breach of our cyber security measures is disturbing, and I strongly condemn any such efforts... the Russians are not our friends.

SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL, a Kentucky Republican and the Senate Majority Leader, on why he backs investigations.

"The CIA is filled with selfless patriots, many of whom anonymously risk their lives for the American people."

The top Republican in the House, Speaker Paul Ryan, also said he supported the ongoing investigation by Representative Devin Nunes of California, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

 
 

In a statement, Mr Ryan said: "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 (Vladimir) Putin, Russia has been an aggressor that consistently undermines American interests."

But the remarks, especially Mr Ryan's, were far from fiery, reflecting both a fear of offending Mr Trump, who has taken many positions against traditional Republican orthodoxy, and the Republicans' belief that Democrats have selectively leaked intelligence information for political gain.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2016, with the headline 'Top Republicans back probe into Russian hacking in US election'. Print Edition | Subscribe