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Electoral College Voters Join Growing Calls for Investigation of Russian Election Hacking

by Countable | 12.12.16

Following the revelation of a secret CIA report that found Russia’s interference in the 2016 election was aimed at boosting Donald Trump’s chances of winning the presidency rather just undermining public confidence, 10 Electoral College voters have asked for intelligence briefings before they cast their ballots December 19.

The 10 electors, a group which includes the daughter of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), sent an open letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper asking for a briefing about the findings of any investigations into the matter. They also requested that Trump provide evidence that he and his staff didn’t accept or collaborate with Russian interference, in addition to disavowing that interference going forward.

What did the CIA find?

The intelligence agency told senators in a confidential briefing that it’s "quite clear" that Russia’s goal in hacking the DNC and Democratic leaders was to boost Trump’s odds of winning the election. That theory, according to the New York Times, is based in part on the CIA’s belief that the RNC was hacked as well, but that the hackers only turned over Democratic emails to WikiLeaks. Additionally, the CIA has identified the individuals with ties to the Russian government who gave the emails to WikiLeaks, and they’re believed to have played a role in a larger operation to help Trump at Hillary Clinton’s expense.

The CIA’s report isn’t considered a formal U.S. assessment, which would’ve included all 17 intelligence agencies, and some disagreements exist in the intelligence community over its findings. On the law enforcement side of the debate, the FBI has pushed back against the CIA’s report over questions about how conclusive the evidence against the Russian government is. For example, there’s no intelligence showing that the Kremlin was "directing" the individuals — who aren’t government employees — to give the emails to WikiLeaks. That gives the Russian government plausible deniability, as they can defend themselves against accusations of tampering by saying that the perpetrators weren’t acting in an official capacity on their behalf.

Much of the difference between how the CIA and FBI view the intelligence in front of them can be traced to the nature of the work they do. The CIA gathers raw intelligence and analyzes it to make inferences about the motivations and goals of a government or individual, whereas the FBI is more methodical in looking for conclusive evidence that can be used by prosecutors (or in this case foreign policy decisionmakers).

Will there be further investigations?

At this time it looks as though there could be several ongoing investigations now that congressional leaders are getting involved.

In line with President Obama’s request for a full review of election-related hacking dating back to 2008, intelligence agencies will continue to investigate Russia’s role in the electoral meddling. Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the soon-to-be top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer (NY), have agreed that a bipartisan investigation will be carried out by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) has said that the intelligence committee’s counterpart in the lower chamber will do the same.

What could the impact be?

For the Electoral College, the true impact won’t be known until electors cast their ballots on December 19, though it seems unlikely that enough votes will change to deny Trump the 270 he needs to win the presidency or to send the decision to the House of Representatives.

In terms of U.S.-Russia relations, the findings of deeper investigations into Russia’s role in the hacking could have significant implications. If a direct link between the hackers and the Kremlin is found, there could be an increase in tensions that manifests itself in diplomatic bickering or more provocative acts, like one country deploying military assets near the other’s borders.

Even if no conclusive evidence links the Russian government to the hacking, the U.S. could look to punish the individuals who gave the emails to WikiLeaks. Among the actions that could be taken against the hackers include denying their entry into the U.S., or freezing assets that are held in American financial institutions. Assuming no connection between them and the Russian government is found, such actions would be easier diplomatically for the U.S. to take.

— Eric Revell

Countable

Written by Countable

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(307)
  • Kerra
    12/13/2016
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    Because of how detrimental a Trump presidency will be to the United States, it is vital that investigations will be done towards making sure this election was won fair by Mr. Trump. Millions of people's lives are on the line with this outcome of the election.

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  • David
    12/13/2016
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    Please push for this

    Like (37)
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  • Diana
    12/13/2016
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    Please be a true patriot and take action to ensure that the election results truly reflect the will of the American people!

    Like (31)
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  • Greg
    12/13/2016
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    Please enable and encourage all Electors to receive a crucial intelligence briefing regarding Russia's actions BEFORE December 19th. Casting their vote fully informed about foreign influences is part of their Constitutional duty!

    Like (27)
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  • Lynne
    12/13/2016
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    Electoral college should have intelligence briefings.

    Like (18)
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  • Michelle
    12/13/2016
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    Please support the electors who have requested full transparency before they cast their votes for President on Dec. 19th. This election is crucial, and the news that there was possible tampering by a foreign country is too important to let slide and establish as a precedent. Thank you.

    Like (16)
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  • Erin
    12/13/2016
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    Aside from Trump's countless conflicts of interest, it's also important that the ties to Russia are fully examined. Putin is a real threat to democracy and any Russian involvement in this election is concerning and inappropriate. Don't take the easy way out. Think about the future of this country. It's a real concern.

    Like (14)
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  • Jennifer
    12/13/2016
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    Please halt the electoral college vote until a thorough investigation has been done looking into hacking and fraud

    Like (13)
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  • Brittney
    12/13/2016
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    Electoral college voters should have all of the information prior to casting their ballot for the president!

    Like (12)
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  • Augusta
    12/13/2016
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    Of course there should be an investigation, but let's keep in mind that the hackers, whoever they are, revealed to the American public the truth about Democrat duplicity. The TRUTH. Thank you, hackers.

    Like (10)
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  • Lilly
    12/13/2016
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    Please investigate prior to December 19th. The electors deserve a full picture prior to casting their votes.

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  • Carrie
    12/13/2016
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    I expect that any rational or intelligent person understands the call to investigate our election results. Please make it a priority to investigate the CIA confirmed Russian interference with our election BEFORE Trump is confirmed

    Like (9)
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  • Lisa
    12/13/2016
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    Electoral college needs intelligence briefing NOW

    Like (8)
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  • Rebekah
    12/13/2016
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    This is vital to our country's security. Push hard for a thorough investigation!!!

    Like (8)
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  • rfelty
    12/13/2016
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    This is too important to ignore.

    Like (8)
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  • Damion
    12/13/2016
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    Garbage. Either provide open and transparent evidence or stop the propaganda. No I didn't vote for the clown.

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  • Kate
    12/13/2016
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    Please encourage the CIA to launch a full investigation into the ideas that russia messed with the election

    Like (7)
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  • Tim
    12/13/2016
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    We live in a democracy or we are supposed to. If there was any violation we should know and that means investigate. "We the people," not "I can do whatever want."

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  • Young
    12/13/2016
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    All EC voters deserve a CIA briefing before voting.

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  • George
    12/13/2016
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    The electors just need to do their job and not worry about silly drama of hacking. Seriously, look at who is complain, NPs daughter? Talk about being corrupt.

    Like (6)
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