By Michael Kan
Dec. 8, 2016
U.S. lawmakers are pushing for a government probe into whether Russia may have interfered with the presidential election by hacking high-profile political targets.
On Wednesday, two Democratic representatives unveiled legislation that proposes to form a 12-member bipartisan commission to investigate the electronic means Russia may have used to influence the U.S. election.
"Regardless of whether you voted for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or anyone else, Russia’s attacks on our election are an attempt to degrade our democracy," said Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland, one of the sponsors of the bill.
Back in October, U.S. intelligence agencies publicly blamed the Russian government for sponsoring several high-profile hacks designed to sway public opinion during the election cycle, however, no specific evidence was provided.
The hacks included a breach at the Democratic National Committee that stole sensitive emails, which were later leaked online. Independent security experts have also blamed the incident on Russian cyberspies, due in part to the malware used, but the country’s government has denied any involvement.
The proposed commission would investigate the DNC breach, in addition to hacking activity that stole emails from Hillary Clinton aide John Podesta and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. It would also look into potential hacking attempts of three state election systems, as well as efforts to promote fake news during the U.S. election.
The panel would also investigate other foreign governments and individuals that tried to influence the election. The commission would provide recommendations on ways to prevent future tampering.
On Tuesday, a group of Democratic lawmakers also sent a letter to President Barack Obama, urging his administration to provide a classified briefing to lawmakers on what U.S. intelligence agencies know about Russian attempts to tamper with this year's election.
However, President-elect Donald Trump voiced doubts that Russia was involved in any election-related hacking.
"I don’t believe they interfered," Trump said, according to an interview with Time magazine published on Wednesday.
"It could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey," Trump said.
But despite Trump’s skepticism, the calls for a more formal probe into the alleged hacking appear to be growing among U.S. lawmakers. Also on Wednesday, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said he would also lead an inquiry into the suspected Russian election hacking through congressional subcommittees, according to CNN.
"I think Trump should take a real tough tone with Russia," Graham said. "Because if he doesn’t, you’re going to allow Russia to break apart alliances."
Security experts predict Russian cyberspies will probably carry out similar hacks in Europe to sway elections held there.