Russian hacking in spotlight: Live coverage of hearing

Graham slams Russia, defends intelligence community

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenators spar over validity of Trump impeachment trial Trump selects South Carolina lawyer for impeachment trial Democrats formally elect Harrison as new DNC chair MORE (R-S.C.) called for stronger measures against Russia for interference in the U.S. elections, putting him in direct opposition to the incoming Trump administration. 


"It is time not to throw pebbles but to throw rocks," he said, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin "is up to no good and he better be stopped." 

Trump has cast dispersion on the intelligence community's conclusion that Russia tried to influence the outcome of the election by hacking into the email servers belonging to the Democratic National Committee and top Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden must wait weekend for State Department pick Texas Supreme Court rejects Alex Jones request to toss lawsuits from Sandy Hook parents Paris Agreement: Biden's chance to restore international standing MORE aide John Podesta's and leaking them. 

Graham, a former presidential candidate and leading defense hawk, also defended the intelligence community's assessments. 

"They're the best among us and they're trying to protect us," he said. 

Kaine: Investigating Russian hacking isn’t about changing election results

Updated 12:22

Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineLawmakers move to oust extremists from military Trump impeachment trial to begin week of Feb. 8 Democrats float 14th Amendment to bar Trump from office MORE (D-Vir.), the former Democratic vice presidential candidate, argued for the non-partisan importance of the election hacking investigation well beyond the election results. 


Kaine opened his remarks comparing election hacking to Watergate.

“It was not an investigation driven because something affected the election. The 1972 election was the most one-sided in modern history,” he said. “But it was a high moment for Congress because Congress in a bipartisan way stood for the principle that you couldn’t undertake efforts to influence an American presidential election and have there be no consequence.”

 Kaine has nearly unparalleled authority to ask to separate the debate over Russian hacking from the debate on how it affected his opportunity to become VP. If election hacking did affect the outcome of the election, he lost the second most. 

Clapper: 'People with glass houses' shouldn't counterattack over cyber espionage

Updated 11:23

During questioning on the U.S. response to the OPM hack,  Clapper pulled out an old saw to explain why retaliation is not always in order. 

"Nobody seems intimidated by us," said Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), later adding "We're showing it will not be costly to hack the files of 22 million intelligence officers."

Clapper responded, "As I say, people in glass houses need to think about throwing rocks. This was an act of espionage. And we and other nations conduct similar acts of espionage."

McCaskill: US adversaries benefit from Trump's 'trashing' US intelligence community 

Updated 11:01 a.m.

Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillFor Biden, a Senate trial could aid bipartisanship around COVID relief Lobbying world Former McCaskill aides launch PAC seeking to thwart Hawley MORE (D-Mo.) said the "biggest benefactors" of President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpMore than two-thirds of Americans approve of Biden's coronavirus response: poll Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor Mexico's president tests positive for COVID-19 MORE "trashing" the intelligence community are U.S. adversaries. 

"[Who is] the benefactor of someone who is about to become commander in chief trashing the intelligence community?" she asked at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing with top intelligence leaders. 

"I assume the biggest benefactors [are] Iran, North Korea, Russia and [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria]," she said. 

Trump has cast doubt on the conclusion of the intelligence community that Russia interfered in the presidential elections on behalf of the president-elect by hacking the emails of Democratic National Committee and top Hillary Clinton aide John Podesta and leaking it to Wikileaks. 


Trump has bolstered his claim by saying the intelligence community got intelligence in the lead-up to the Iraq War wrong. 

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told McCaskill there is a difference between "healthy skepticism" and disparagement. 

"I think there is a difference between skepticism and disparagement," he said. 

However, he added, "The intelligence community is not perfect. We are an organization of human beings," We are prone sometimes to make errors...I don't think the intelligence community gets the credit it's due for what it does day in and day out to keep this nation secure." 

Obama hacking report will address Russia's motivations

Updated: 10:51 a.m. 

The Obama administration's report detailing Russian interference in the U.S. election — due in unclassified form early next week — will address the question of Russia's intentions.


Clapper told lawmakers that the report "will ascribe a motivation."

"There's actually more than one motive," Clapper said. "That will be described in the report."

He declined to provide further detail on Thursday.

Officials up until now have described the attacks on the DNC and Podesta as an attempt to "influence" the U.S. election, but have stopped short of describing it as an explicit attempt to help elect Donald Trump.

The distinction has been one of the flash-points in the debate over Russian hacking. Trump has treated any suggestion of Russian interference as an attack on the legitimacy of his victory. 

The classified version of the report was reportedly delivered to President Obama today. Clapper said Thursday that he intends to make as much of the report public as possible.

Clapper: No talks with Trump about ODNI


Updated: 10:24 a.m.

Clapper told lawmakers that he has not been involved in any discussions with Donald Trump's transition team to overhaul his office.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday night that Trump is weighing slimming down the Office of the Director of National Security (ODNI) and cutting CIA staff in Washington in favor of placing more personnel overseas.

ODNI was created after the Sept. 11 attacks to smooth information sharing between intelligence agencies, but has faced criticism that it has merely added a layer of bureaucracy.

Current CIA Director John Brennan last year restructured the CIA to combine analysts with spies into so-called "mission centers." The move faced some internal criticism for undermining the agency's human intelligence mission.

Hacking report prepared by three agencies

Updated 10:24 a.m.

The Intelligence Committee’s report on Russian hacking is primarily being prepared by three agencies: the CIA, the FBI and the National Security Agency, Clapper

The report, which was reportedly delivered to Obama today, is intended to provide a comprehensive view of Russian interference in U.S. elections going back multiple years.

Clapper: No way to judge impact on election

Updated 10:12 a.m. 

The Intelligence Community has no way to determine the impact of Russian hacks on the outcome of the election, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told lawmakers.

“They didn’t change any vote tallies,” Clapper said, but “We have no way of gauging the impact that — certainly the Intelligence Community can’t — the choices that the electorate made. There’s no way for us to gauge.”

Assange has zero credibility with panel
Updated: 10:06 a.m.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange doesn't have a lot of fans at today's hearing. 
When asked if Assange was credible, Clapper responded with a very noticeably annoyed look, "Not in my view."
Navy Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of National Security Agency responded, "I second those comments." 
Assange made news this week by saying that the emails from the Democratic National Committee published by his organization did not come from Russia. 
The U.S. intelligence community and McCain don't believe him, but President-elect Donald Trump has repeated Assange's views.Clapper: We won't discuss Russian hacking report
Updated 10:01 a.m.
The nation’s top spy on Thursday confirmed that the Intelligence Community will release an unclassified version of its report into Russian interference into the election “early next week” — but told lawmakers until then he would not be willing to discuss the issue.

“We plan to brief the Congress and release an unclassified version of this report to the public next week with due deference to highly sensitive sources and methods,” DNI James Clapper told lawmakers.

“We’re not really prepared to discuss this beyond standing by our earlier statements.”

National Security Agency head Adm, Michael Rogers also said that he would "avoid specifics" on the report until Congress has been briefed. 
President Obama ordered the report completed before Donald Trump takes office on Jan. 20. Officials reportedly delivered the document to the president today. 

The ODNI, along with the Department of Homeland Security, issued a public statement in October blaming Russia for the attacks on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and other political organizations. Officials called the attacks an attempt to interfere in the U.S. election but provided little other information.
Top Dem wants Select panel

Updated: 9:48 a.m.

One big difference between Democrats and Republicans has been whether a select panel should be appointed to investigate Russia's actions in the U.S. election. 

Sen. Jack ReedJack ReedOvernight Defense: Austin takes helm at Pentagon | COVID-19 briefing part of Day 1 agenda | Outrage over images of National Guard troops in parking garage Senate confirms Austin to lead Pentagon under Biden Senate approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee MORE (D-R.I.), the ranking member on Armed Services, called for the formation of a select panel in his opening statement.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden attends first church service as president in DC, stops at local bagel shop Harry Reid 'not particularly optimistic' Biden will push to eliminate filibuster Senators spar over validity of Trump impeachment trial MORE (R-Ky.) has ruled out a select panel.

Today's hearing is a hot ticket. The room is packed.


McCain: Election is settled

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainArizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Whoopi Goldberg wears 'my vice president' shirt day after inauguration Budowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated MORE opened a highly anticipated hearing on Russian hacking by saying that the presidential election has been settled. 

The chairman of the Armed Services Committee noted that both President Obama and President-elect Donald Trump have said it is time to move on, and he said he did not mean for the hearing to question the election's result.

“The goal...is not to question the outcome of the presidential election. Nor should it be. As both President Obama and President-elect Trump have said, our nation must move forward. But we must do so with full knowledge of the facts."
McCain then made it clear that he thinks it is appropriate for Congress and the executive branch to dive deeper into the details of what happened, given the stakes at play. 

The careful comments are a sign that McCain doesn't want the hearing to be viewed as an attack on Trump, something consistent with his other public comments.