Two leading Republican voices on foreign policy in the U.S. Senate, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, joined two Democratic senators on Sunday in expressing concern over the reports on Russian interference in November's presidential election, even as President-elect Donald Trump dismissed these reports as "ridiculous."
- Ex-CIA operative calls for new U.S. elections amid reports of Russian interference
- Rex Tillerson, Trump's candidate for secretary of state: 'I have a very close relationship with Putin'
- Putin inks 'largest oil deal in Russia's history' despite Western sanctions
In an interview with CBS, McCain urged President-elect Trump to accept that Russia had interfered in the election, and demanded a Congressional investigation. "The facts are there," McCain said.
In a separate joint statement, Graham, McCain, and Democrats Chuck Schumer and Jack Reed wrote: "For years, foreign adversaries have directed cyber attacks at America's physical, economic, and military infrastructure, while stealing our intellectual property. Now our democratic institutions have been targeted."
"Recent reports of Russian interference in our election should alarm every American," the statement said. "This cannot become a partisan issue. The stakes are too high for our country," the senators said.
"Democrats and Republicans must work together and across the jurisdictional lines of the Congress, to examine these recent incidents thoroughly and devise comprehensive solutions to deter and defend against further cyberattacks."
Trump said he didn't believe reports that intelligence agencies concluded Russia had intervened in the election on his behalf, according to an interview broadcast on "Fox News Sunday."
"I think it's ridiculous. I think it's just another excuse. I don't believe it," Trump said in the interview, taped on Saturday. He blamed Democrats for putting out the media reports and said he did not believe they came from the Central Intelligence Agency.
A senior U.S. intelligence official told Reuters intelligence agencies have concluded with "high confidence" that not only did their Russian counterparts direct the hacking of Democratic Party organizations and leaders, but they did so to undermine Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Trump questioned whether the CIA was behind the reports that indicated Moscow wanted him in the White House. "I think the Democrats are putting it out," he said in the interview.
"U.S. intelligence agencies have told Congress and the administration of President Barack Obama that Russia has grown increasingly aggressive in Syria and Ukraine and has stepped up activities in cyberspace including meddling, sometimes covertly, in European and U.S. elections.
The Washington Post said on Saturday that a senior FBI counterintelligence official had offered a different assessment in a briefing to lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee. The newspaper quoted him as calling the Russian role in the election "fuzzy" and "ambiguous" and suggesting the CIA and FBI differed in their assessments.