U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said he isn’t yet convinced of the CIA’s assessment that Russia meddled in the presidential election to help President-elect Donald Trump.
Unlike Trump, Johnson, R-Oshkosh, didn’t outright reject the CIA assessment, made public last week in a report by The Washington Post.
But Johnson told the Wisconsin State Journal in a statement that he “would need more definitive information before drawing further conclusions” about Russian interference in the election — which appears to have included hacking emails from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.
Johnson, who just was elected to a second term, is a leading senator on national security issues. He is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, sits on the Foreign Relations Committee and is chairman of its subcommittee on Europe.
His statement said he supports a bid by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, to launch a new probe of Russia’s hacking and interference in the elections. “If Sen. Corker plans to hold a hearing on any recent Russian activities, I will work with the chairman ... to uncover the factsof the matter,” he said.
Johnson said he held hearings of the Europe subcommittee on “Russian propaganda and its disinformation campaigns” and, during trips to Europe, “heard firsthand of Russia’s efforts to destabilize and interfere in the internal affairs of its neighbors.”
You have free articles remaining.
The hacked DNC and Podesta emails were made public by the international group WikiLeaks. U.S. intelligence agencies told the Washington Post they have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided the emails to WikiLeaks.
“Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt” Clinton, the Post reported.
Previous assessments indicated Russian interference in the election was meant only to sow chaos and doubt about the U.S. electoral process.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, said Tuesday that the CIA should declassify and make public details of its “conclusions regarding Russia’s online assaults.”
Trump has called the CIA assessment “ridiculous.” while maintaining “nobody really knows” who’s responsible for the DNC and Podesta hacks.
FBI officials reportedly have expressed less certainty about the conclusion drawn by the CIA, in part because the bureau requires “a standard of proof that could sustain a possible criminal prosecution,” according to a USA Today report.