Amid public consensus among the 17 U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a bipartisan group of senators is pushing for a temporary select committee to be created to investigate Russia's election-season hacking and other cyberattacks on the U.S. On Monday night, in an interview on Kentucky public television, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) rejected the idea, saying "We already have a committee established to do this."
There are three Senate committees starting their own investigation — intelligence, foreign relations, and armed services — and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services committee and a leading proponent of setting up a special committee, says it would be more efficient to give jurisdiction for Russian cyber-meddling to one committee. McConnell disagreed. "We don't need a special committee to set up what we already have the ability to do, but it is a serious matter and it will be investigated," he said. He also dismissed the idea, advocated by the CIA and FBI, that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the hacking to help Donald Trump win the election. "If they say they're trying to elect a particular candidate, I think they're going to find out that it didn't do them any good," he said.
McConnell — whose wife, Elaine Chao, is Trump's pick for transportation secretary — said it was "doubly exciting" that Republicans kept control of the Senate and Trump won the White House. "I honestly thought we wouldn't hold the U.S. Senate — I thought we'd come up short," McConnell said. "I didn't think President Trump had a chance of winning." Trump pulled it off, he speculated, because he "was able to convey, oddly enough, a message from a billionaire who lives in Manhattan, a genuine concern for people who felt kind of left out, who were sort of offended by all the political correctness they see around them, and didn't feel like this was the America they were accustomed to." You can watch excerpts of the interview below. Peter Weber