Sen. Jack Reed Wants To Examine Claims Of Russian Cyberattacks
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This weekend, we're following news of President-elect Donald Trump's emerging Cabinet and the CIA's claim that Russia interfered in U.S. elections in favor of Donald Trump. Seven Democratic U.S. senators signed a letter yesterday saying they want some of this new information declassified. Donald Trump speaking to Fox News says he does not believe it and that Democrats are just trying to make excuses for their losses.
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DONALD TRUMP: I think the Democrats are putting it out because they suffered one of the greatest defeats in the history of politics in this country. And frankly I think they're putting it out, and it's ridiculous.
MARTIN: As of this morning, though, Democrats are not the only ones expressing concern. Two Republicans - John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina - joined New York Democrat and incoming Minority Leader Charles Schumer and Rhode Island's Jack Reed on a separate statement saying that the CIA's reports of Russian interference should be taken seriously.
Senator John McCain told CBS he was baffled by the president-elect's response. Senator McCain said he wants a special committee to investigate alleged Russian interference.
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JOHN MCCAIN: It's going to require congressional involvement. It's going to require in-depth and - by the way, the Russians have interfered in a lot of other elections. The Russians have hacked into some of our most secret military information.
MARTIN: We reached out to all of the senators who signed the statement. Democratic Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island was able to join us. He is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee of which Senator McCain is the chair, and he's with us now. Senator Reed, thank you so much for speaking with us.
JACK REED: Thank you.
MARTIN: So first tell us what you want to see happen now.
REED: Well, the intelligence community has done a careful assessment of the facts, and they have reached with a high sense of confidence a conclusion that there was penetration of both the Democratic organization and the Republican organization but that it appears that only information detrimental to the Democratic candidate was released, raising questions of, one, the motivation of the Russians - also questions of going forward, of the integrity of our campaign system not just in this past election but future elections.
So these are serious questions that have to be looked at closely. I'm very pleased that Chairman McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham recognize this and are taking a leadership role along with Senator Schumer. But this is a question of significant importance not just for the moment but for the future of the country and our democratic process.
MARTIN: But the president-elect is very dismissive of presumably the same information that you have access to. So what do you make of that?
REED: It's very difficult to understand the evidence and the conclusion which was not drawn lightly by the intelligence community - what has been publicized. I'm not saying anything that was not made public, and I think it raises serious questions.
And rather than trying to deny the facts or the conclusion, I think the appropriate course is what Senator McCain, Schumer and myself, Senator Graham have suggested, which is to go ahead and look very closely, again protecting our sources and methods of collection so we don't do anything that would undermine our ability to continue our counter-espionage efforts but give the American people the facts. Don't jump to a conclusion, particularly one that seems to be contrary to the facts that have been assembled.
MARTIN: Before we let you go, is the critical issue here that you want to know what happened but you also want the public to know what happened? Is the critical piece of this that you want some vehicle by which the public can know what went on?
REED: Well, I think, one, we want to know what happened. Two, we want to ensure that we can take appropriate steps so that we will not be vulnerable to this type of operation again in future elections so that we can reassure the public that they can be confident that our elections are decided by debate, discussion, door-to-door activity, not by some foreign intelligence service and their influence. And then I think the issue of getting those facts out to the public is also critical, too.
MARTIN: That's Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island. He's the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. He was 1 of the 4 senators who released a statement today - a bipartisan statement today in response to news reports on the CIA's analysis of Russian interference with the 2016 election. Senator Reed, thank you so much for speaking with us.
REED: Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.