PROJO: R.I. lawmakers call for congressional investigation into cyber campaign

PROJO: R.I. lawmakers call for congressional investigation into cyber campaign

By Donita Naylor

Updated at 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 7, to include Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s statement

Three of Rhode Island’s four congressmen have called for a congressional investigation into Russia’s interference with the U.S. election of 2016.

“Our elections should be decided by American citizens, not foreign hackers, heads of state, or their propagandists,” U.S. Sen. Jack Reed said Friday in reaction to a U.S. intelligence report saying Russia had “actively manipulated” the election.

Reed, the highest-ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said he agreed with Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain, who called the cyber campaign “an attack on all Americans because it undermines our democracy.”

Reed said from Washington that the hard evidence and “broad consensus from U.S. intelligence officials” should compel the United States “to take corrective action” against Russia.

“I realize this may be an uncomfortable situation for President-elect Trump, but the American people and the strength of our democracy should come first,” Reed said.

U.S. Rep. James Langevin, the R.I. Democrat who serves on the Armed Services and Homeland Security committees in the House and is cofounder and cochairman of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, noted that the Russians did not hack into systems for casting or counting votes but said he agrees that election systems should be declared critical infrastructure. “We must also act as a nation to build our resilience against future information warfare attacks,” Langevin said from Warwick.

Because Putin’s goals favored Trump, Langevin said, “it is essential that Mr. Trump act immediately to denounce this act of Russian interference and pledge to continue and enhance sanctions on Russia in response.”

From Pawtucket, U.S. Rep. David N. Cicilline called Russia’s actions “truly disturbing, and they cannot go unanswered.”
Saying Trump and some Republicans “have attempted to excuse Russia’s egregious behavior when it advances their own political goals,” Cicilline called the Russian leader “a brutal dictator” and said Republicans should “stop playing politics and work to hold Russia accountable.”

U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse issued a statement on Saturday.

“Our intelligence community has spoken in no uncertain terms: Vladimir Putin led Russia in a far-reaching influence campaign designed to undermine the American people’s faith
in the democratic process and to elect Donald Trump. Now it is up to President-elect Trump to acknowledge the truth and resolve that such attacks never again succeed,” Whitehouse said