Senators say cyberattacks 'have cut to the heart of our free society'

Senators say cyberattacks 'have cut to the heart of our free society'
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan group of senators said early Sunday that reports of Russian interference in U.S. elections should “alarm every American,” adding that recent cyberattacks “have cut to the heart of our free society.”

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“For years, foreign adversaries have directed cyberattacks at America’s physical, economic and military infrastructure, while stealing our intellectual property. Now our democratic institutions have been targeted,” Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP senators appalled by 'ridiculous' House infighting MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, Chris Christie battle over Fox News Trump's attacks on McConnell seen as prelude to 2024 White House bid MORE (R-Ariz.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead Biden move to tap oil reserves draws GOP pushback MORE (R-S.C.), Jack ReedJack ReedBiden administration resists tougher Russia sanctions in Congress Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Senate punts on defense bill Warren calls for Senate probe of 2019 Syrian airstrike that killed dozens of civilians MORE (D-R.I) and Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSchumer mourns death of 'amazing' father Feehery: The honest contrarian Biden administration to release oil from strategic reserve: reports MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a statement calling for an investigation.

“Recent reports of Russian interference should alarm every American.”

The Washington Post reported on Friday that the CIA concluded Russia intervened in the election to help Donald TrumpDonald TrumpStowaway found in landing gear of plane after flight from Guatemala to Miami Kushner looking to Middle East for investors in new firm: report GOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips MORE win the presidency.

Various people have been identified who helped the Russian government leak hacked documents from Democratic sources, including the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Poll: Democracy is under attack, and more violence may be the future Popping the progressive bubble MORE's campaign chairman, to WikiLeaks, according to the report.

President-elect Donald Trump assailed Democrats over the issue on Sunday, saying it was ridiculous to think Russia interfered in the election to help him get elected.

He charged that Democrats are looking for an excuse as to why they lost the White House, even as he again touted his "massive landslide victory" in the Electoral College.

The senators said on Sunday that Congress’s national security committees have worked “diligently” to address the “complex challenge” of cybersecurity, adding that “recent events show that more must be done.”

“While protecting classified material, we have an obligation to inform the public about recent cyberattacks that have cut to the heart of our free society. Democrats and Republicans must work together, and across jurisdictional lines of the Congress, to examine these recent incidents thoroughly and devise comprehensive solutions to deter and defend against further attacks,” they said.

“This cannot become a partisan issue. “The stakes are too high for our country. We are committed to working in this bipartisan manner, and we will seek to unify our colleagues around the goal of investigating and stopping the grave threats that cyberattacks conducted by foreign governments post to our national security.”

Other senators on Sunday also called for a response to Russia's reported interference.
 
Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillLobbying world Ex-Rep. Akin dies at 74 Republicans may regret restricting reproductive rights MORE (D-Mo.) said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that Russia's meddling is "a form of warfare" and Vladimir Putin must be "held accountable."
 
 
"I think we need to get to the bottom of it," he told ABC. "And I think there should be an investigation because in order to defend ourselves against other adversarial countries, we have to protect our information."
 
A spokesperson for Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanNo time for the timid: The dual threats of progressives and Trump Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Cheney takes shot at Trump: 'I like Republican presidents who win re-election' MORE, meanwhile, said in an email to The Hill that the Wisconsin Republican for months has said that foreign intervention is “unacceptable,” adding that his office has worked to ensure that the election was “conducted consistent with our long history of free and fair elections.”
 
“The speaker can not comment on or characterize the content of classified briefings but he rejects any politicization of intelligence matters,” AshLee Strong added, without mentioning the senators' call for an investigation.
 
--Scott Wong and Mallory Shelbourne contributed to this report, which was updated at 4 p.m.