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Colo. Sen. Cory Gardner calls for permanent cybersecurity committee amid Russian hacking allegations

Posted: 1:27 PM, Dec 12, 2016
Updated: 2016-12-12 16:08:42-05
Colo. Sen. Cory Gardner calls for permanent cybersecurity committee amid Russian hacking allegations

DENVER – Colorado Senator Cory Gardner is among more than a dozen Republicans calling for the U.S. government to probe the possible influence of Russian hackers on the General Election, despite President-elect Donald Trump's denials that Russia is involved.

Gardner, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, issued a news release Monday again calling on the Senate to create a permanent committee on cybersecurity.

His call for the creation of the committee comes on the heels of a report by The Washington Post in which anonymous sources told the paper the CIA had concluded Russia intervened in the election in order to help Donald Trump win the presidency, and that people connected to the Kremlin provided WikiLeaks with emails hacked or phished from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta.

On the same day as The Post’s report went to print, President Barack Obama ordered an intelligence review be conducted and delivered to his desk by the end of his term that investigates Russian hacking allegations.

At least a dozen other intelligence agencies and several House and Senate committees have come to the same, or similar conclusions.

“Recent reports from our intelligence community concluded that Russia attempted to influence the U.S. presidential election, serving as yet another reminder of the hose of emerging threats in cyberspace,” Gardner said in Monday’s new release. “These allegations must be thoroughly investigated, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to address the sanctioning of Russian and specifically, bad actors identified following an investigation.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday said that “Russians are not our friends” and condemned the actions by the allegedly Russian-linked hackers. He said the Senate Intelligence Committee will be investigating.

House Speaker Paul Ryan also said the House Intelligence Committee will investigate the alleged hacking, but said the investigation “should not cast doubt on the clear and decisive outcome of this election” or involve “partisan” politics. Ryan said any Russian intervention into the U.S. election would be “especially problematic.”

President-elect Donald Trump, however, continued to deny and downplay any alleged involvement by the Russians, calling the allegations “ridiculous.”

He took to his soapbox of choice, Twitter, Monday morning to say “it’s very hard to determine who was doing the hacking” unless the hackers are caught in the act, though forensic analysts are often able to determine the source of hacks long after they are done.

He also continued to chastise Hillary Clinton in regards to the hacks. “Can you imagine if the election results were the opposite and WE tried to play the Russia/CIA card,” Trump tweeted. “It would be called conspiracy theory!”

When The Post’s story published Friday, Trump’s team dismissed the CIA assessment in a news release, saying it was from “the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.”

Gardner was among the first Hill Republicans to call for inquiries into and consequences for any alleged Russian hacking in October, when the U.S. first officially blamed Russia for the hacks.

At that time, Gardner said he wanted to introduce legislation to impose sanctions on Russia for its cyber activities, though he at the time pointed to the Obama Administration as being partially at fault, saying it failed “to take the cyber threat seriously.”

He also called for the creating of a cyber threat committee in July 2015 in regards to Chinese hacking.

Though no new legislation has been introduced yet, his office said he is continuing to work with committee members and other senators to do so.

Powerful Senate Republicans John McCain and Lindsey Graham have both joined the Senate’s investigation.

One of Colorado's electors joined a host of others Monday in calling for a full intelligence briefing on the alleged Russian hacking before they cast their votes Dec. 19.

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