Ex-Ambassador to Russia: 'Big, New Facts' About Russian Hacking Demand Investigation

By Susan Jones | December 12, 2016 | 7:44am EST
Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul. (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul says there is enough "circumstantial" evidence and "big, new facts" to establish a "bipartisan, independent investigation" into reported Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election.

Recent reports in the Washington Post and the New York Times quote unnamed intelligence sources as saying that Russia hacked the Democrat National Committee in a deliberate effort to tilt the election toward Donald Trump. The Republican National Committee reportedly also was hacked, but in that case, the Russians withheld the emails, something outgoing RNC Chairman Reince Priebus firmly denies.

McFaul told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that Russia has both the capability and the political motivation to "do these kinds of things."

"What is really striking about the last 48 hours, of course, is that now the intelligence community is starting to directly give us news about the way these dots are connected...We knew some things, like we were pretty certain about the DNC hacking by the Russians. What we didn't have reported before was evidence that they gave that data to WikiLeaks.

"And we also didn't have the data that you just described in your intro, that they have hacked the RNC, the Republicans. Those are pretty big, new facts. And I think they demand real attention in terms of some kind of investigation."

Asked about Russia's motivation, McFaul named two things: "One is revenge against Secretary Clinton. Let's remember that Vladimir Putin thinks that she intervened in his election, the parliamentary election in December 2011, and has said as much publicly. And I've heard him talk about it privately.

"Number two, President-elect Trump supports a lot of foreign policy positions that Vladimir Putin supports...And so it's very rational, in my view, that he would rather see President-Elect Trump be the next President of the United States instead of Secretary Clinton.

"Now I want to add one thing here. Sometimes people jump to the conclusion that this was somehow coordinated with President-Elect Trump. I don't believe that for a minute.

"But did the Russians take some actions to try to help him? I think the evidence is circumstantial enough that we really do need this bipartisan, independent investigation that others are calling for."

McFaul, asked about Trump's apparent intention to name ExxonMobil Chairman Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state, called the choice "disturbing," given Tillerson's business and personal ties with Russia and President Vladimir Putin.

Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a firm foe of Russian President Putin, is calling for a bipartisan investigation into the alleged Russian hacking and its influence on the U.S. presidential election:

"It is clear the Russians interfered," McCain told CBS's "Face the Nation."

"Now, whether they intended to interfere to the degree that they were trying to elect a certain candidate, I think that is a subject of investigation. But the facts are stubborn things. They did hack into this campaign. And they did it, I think, with some -- with at least what seemed to be effective -- sort of every week or so, there was new information.

"And were they hacking the Republicans the same way? The Republican National Committee? And, if so, why didn't they -- there is a whole lot of issues out there. It requires an investigation."

McCain said it's "fine with me" if President Obama orders an investigation, even if it will continue well beyond Obama's departure from the Oval Office.

"But it is going to require congressional involvement," McCain said. In an "ideal world," McCain said he would like a select Senate committee to do the investigation.

"But that takes a long time," McCain added. "It takes a lot of negotiating, et cetera...But what we are going to do in the meantime is going to have a subcommittee on the Armed Services Committee. We are going to ask Senator Lindsey Graham, who is as smart as anybody on this issue, to be the chair, along with a really smart Democrat. And we will go to work on it. We will go to work immediately, because the issue of cyber is not a static issue."

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