By Ian Donnis
Members of Rhode Island’s congressional delegation say unverified claims alleging collusion between the Russian government and the campaign of President-elect Donald Trump need to be scrutinized.
“Like all Americans, Senator Reed finds these allegations extremely disturbing,” said Chip Unruh, spokesman for US Senator Jack Reed. “He will wait for facts before jumping to conclusions. But this is yet another example of why an independent select committee is needed to quickly and carefully examine the evidence and ensure the American people get the truth.”
Trump has flatly dismissed as false allegations of collusion between his campaign and Russian intelligence services.
Members of Rhode Island’s congressional delegation reacted cautiously to the details, but said the allegations underscore the need for a careful review of the information.
“These new allegations are obviously serious, but we don’t have all the facts,” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said, in a statement. “We do know that the Russian government deliberately hacked into private emails and spread propaganda in an attempt to sway American voters and undermine confidence in our democracy. We do know that the Russians have a long history of using surveillance to gather compromising information on visitors. The American people have the right to know whether, and precisely to what extent, the Russian government may have coordinated with the Trump campaign, or may have compromising material on the President-elect.”
“We will learn more when the leaders of the intelligence community brief the Senate later this week,” Whitehouse continued. “Congress has an ongoing role in getting to the bottom of Russian meddling and connections, and in making sure no foreign power can influence future elections. That’s why I continue to support the creation of a special committee in the Senate for this purpose.”
Congressman Jim Langevin sounded a similar theme.
“We know, without question, that Russia executed a plan to interfere with and influence the 2016 presidential election,” Langevin said. “Recent unsubstantiated reports have indicated that associates of the President-elect may have had contact with Russian agents during the campaign. While I have no reason to trust the veracity of these claims, answering questions like this is precisely why I have called on Speaker Ryan to create a Select Committee on Cybersecurity and why I have joined every one of my House Democratic colleagues in sponsoring a bill to create an independent commission to investigate the hacks. Any attempt to influence an election is an attack on our democracy and must be fully investigated and responded to.”
Congressman David Cicilline added, “We already know that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in order to assist Donald Trump’s campaign – even President-elect Trump finally conceded this fact during his press conference earlier [Wednesday]. What remains unknown is the full scale of their efforts to undermine the foundations of American democracy at home and our interests across the globe. While I cannot speak directly to the allegations that were raised last night regarding the President-elect’s conduct, what’s important now is that an independent, bipartisan commission fully investigate Russia’s actions and uncover all the facts so we ensure this never happens again.”