The two top Republicans in Congress offered strong support for the intelligence community Monday, in sharp contrast to President-elect Donald Trump’s attack on the CIA after reports the agency found that the Russian government tried to help him win the presidency.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he had the “highest confidence” in the intelligence agencies, while House Speaker Paul Ryan praised them for “working diligently” to take on cyber threats from foreign governments. But both leaders also warned against using the issue for partisan gain or casting doubt on the outcome of the election.
McConnell singled out the Central Intelligence Agency for praise and said the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services panels will investigate findings by intelligence agencies that Russia hacked into e-mails and computers used in the presidential campaign.
“Any foreign breach of our cybersecurity measures is disturbing and I strongly condemn any such efforts,” McConnell told reporters. He added later, “The Russians are not our friends.”
The Washington Post reported on Friday that the CIA has told senators that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government was actively seeking to help Trump win the election — a step beyond an earlier finding that the goal was to undermine the credibility of the U.S. political process.
“Any intervention by Russia is especially problematic because, under President Putin, Russia has been an aggressor that consistently undermines American interests,” Ryan said in a statement Monday. “As we work to protect our democracy from foreign influence, we should not cast doubt on the clear and decisive outcome of this election.”
President Barack Obama explained his reasons for ordering a full review of the evidence of Russian hacking in an appearance to be aired Monday night on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah.”