Bipartisan call for committee to probe Russian cyberattacks

CBS News

Top Democrats insist the Russian hacking is a threat to democracy, and a bipartisan group of senators wants a special committee to investigate the evidence. That could lead to a fight with the president-elect (who has disputed evidence that Russia was responsible for the cyber attacks) and Senate Republican leaders.

The Obama Administration is now under fire from both Republicans and Democrats for not countering the Russian cyber threat sooner, reports. CBS News Foreign Affairs correspondent Margaret Brennan.

The Director of National Intelligence is expected to release the intelligence community’s explanation of the scale and scope of the cyber attack within the next two to three weeks.

The intelligence community’s unanimous conclusion prompted four powerful senators -- two from each party -- to demand a special investigation.

“We need a select committee,” Republican Senator John McCain said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We need to get to the bottom of this. We need to find out exactly what was done. There’s no doubt they were interfering.”

The hacking began in 2015, and the stolen Democratic Party emails began appearing on WikiLeaks ahead of Hillary Clinton’s nominating convention this summer. 

On Friday, in his last news conference of the year, President Obama said he learned of the intrusions at that time, but worried going public would undermine Americans’ faith in the election.

“My principal goal leading up to the election was making sure that the election itself went off without a hitch, that it was not tarnished, and that it did not feed any sense in the public that somehow tampering had taken place with the actual process of voting,” Mr. Obama said.

The president said the hacking stopped after he confronted Vladimir Putin in September ... a claim disputed by DNC Chair Donna Brazile. “No, they did not stop,” she told ABC’s “This Week.”

Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta, who was personally targeted by hackers, says something is “broken” at the FBI, and believes the bureau did not adequately respond to the DNC hack.

“The first time I was contacted by the FBI was two days after WikiLeaks started dropping my emails,” Podesta told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the hacking is meant to weaken the U.S.: “I would characterize it as a thinly-disguised, covert operation intended to discredit the American election.”

U.S. officials increasingly see cyberattacks as Putin’s new favorite weapon, and point to a spike in similar Russian operations in Europe aimed at weakening his adversaries. 

Important to note that President Obama made a point to say that the votes cast for Donald Trump were legitimate.