Schiff, Schumer Renew Concerns About Russian Interference in U.S. Election Following NYT Report

By Susan Jones | January 14, 2020 | 6:42am EST
Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) chairs the House intelligence committee. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)
Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) chairs the House intelligence committee. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

( - The New York Times reported Monday night that the Russian military has been hacking into Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company that put Hunter Biden on its board when his father Joe Biden was Obama's point man on Ukraine.

Security experts says the hacking began in early November, "as talk of the Bidens, Ukraine and impeachment was dominating the news in the United States."

The report said it's not clear what the hackers may have found: "But the experts say the timing and scale of the attacks suggest that the Russians could be searching for potentially embarrassing material on the Bidens — the same kind of information that Mr. Trump wanted from Ukraine when he pressed for an investigation of the Bidens and Burisma, setting off a chain of events that led to his impeachment."

On Monday night, two of Trump strongest Democrat critics -- Rep. Adam Schiff and Sen. Chuck Schumer -- said the report on Russians hacking into Burisma was news to them, and they indicated it is even more reason to be alarmed about the upcoming 2020 presidential election.

"No, it is news," Schumer told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Monday night.

And it shows the great need for election security. Again, to have the Russians interfere on the side of the same person that intelligence agencies showed they interfered in the 2016 elections for President Trump is appalling and eats at our democracy.

And as you know, Rachel, this president has fought our efforts for election security. Mitch McConnell has been his complete ally. We need to pass the bipartisan legislation on the Senate floor. The House has passed a lot of it to deal with election security and provide the money so that our elections are not manipulated by a foreign power. And that foreign power, Russia, seems to be gaining everywhere.

Schiff, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, told Maddow he had "several reactions" to the New York Times report:

First, that it would not at all surprise me. This is indeed exactly what Bob Mueller warned about in his testimony that the Russians would be at this again. (FBI) Director Wray has said the same thing, and they appear that this reporting is correct to be in the midst of another hacking and potentially another dumping operation designed to influence another election in Donald Trump's favor.

It is clear if that's the case, that once again they have a favorite. They don't want Joe Biden it would appear from this target, and this would help Donald Trump. And I think the other thing that's apparent from this, if this reporting is correct, is the message that Vladimir Putin has gotten is not to stay out of American elections but you're welcome to get involved in American elections as long as it helps Donald Trump.

It seems to be the message that President Trump has conveyed, at least the message that Vladimir Putin has received. So we're going to start by finding out what our Intel agencies know about this. I have to say, Rachel, I'm a bit distressed to see this for the first time in a newspaper report. If the Intel committee community is aware of this, that should have been brought to our attention by now.

But I don't find it surprising. I do find it deeply disturbing, and I would hope that maybe both parties can get out ahead of this, even if the president won't, and condemn any Russian effort to influence the next election.

Schiff said the U.S. is "not inoculated" against Russian election interference in 2020, and he blamed on Trump.

"We have a president who has made it abundantly clear time after time he is more than happy, more than willing, to make use of foreign help," Schiff said.

"Now, what we can do about it is we can expose it. So if indeed the intelligence community has been on top of this, if there are reports of the Russians doing this, if there is evidence that they intend to use this in the U.S. election, we can do our best to inoculate the public by telling the public about it.

"Indeed, one of the qualms I had about the Obama administration's handling of this back in the last election is they didn't make a more full-throated attribution directly from the president about Russian interference. So we'll have to do the best we can. But unfortunately, we're not nearly as inoculated as we should be."


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