US electors seek briefing on Russia hacking before ratifying results on Dec 19

Mr Donald Trump addressing supporters during a political rally at the Phoenix Convention Centre.
Mr Donald Trump addressing supporters during a political rally at the Phoenix Convention Centre.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A group of electors who will ratify the US presidential election results next week on Monday (Dec 19) called for a full briefing on accusations that Russia intervened to help Mr Donald Trump win the vote.

With support from defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton's top adviser John Podesta, the 10 electors - all but one Democrats - said they need to understand the strength of those accusations before the 538-member Electoral College gathers on Dec 19.

"The electors require to know from the intelligence community whether there are ongoing investigations into ties between Donald Trump, his campaign or associates, and Russian government interference in the election, the scope of those investigations, how far those investigations may have reached, and who was involved in those investigations," they said in an open letter to director of national intelligence James Clapper.

"We further require a briefing on all investigative findings, as these matters directly impact the core factors in our deliberations of whether Mr Trump is fit to serve as president of the United States."

The call came after weekend media reports said the Central Intelligence Agency has concluded that Moscow was behind the hacking of political party computers and the release of data that ultimately damaged Mrs Clinton in her fight against Mr Trump.

He branded that conclusion "ridiculous", but senior members of Congress are taking it seriously and are poised to launch investigations.

Mr Podesta, whose private campaign e-mails were part of the hacked data, said the electors' letter "raises very grave issues involving our national security".

"Electors have a solemn responsibility under the Constitution and we support their efforts to have their questions addressed," he said in a statement.

The US Constitution dictates that the electoral college ultimately decides the presidential election, not the popular vote.

Each US state is given a number of electors that corresponds to the size of the state's population.

In the Nov 8 vote, Mrs Clinton bested Mr Trump in the popular vote by two percentage points, but Mr Trump captured more states and earned 306 electors to Mrs Clinton's 232, giving him the White House victory.

Mr Clay Pell, one of the electors who signed the letter, said it was "essential" to understand what happened before the electors meet to confirm the election result.

"It's absolutely the role of the electoral college to consider that," he told AFP.