As you may know, since November 2016, there has been much media speculation regarding any impact that potential Russian cyber attacks may have had upon the integrity of the Presidential election. On December 9, 2016, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schulz stated in a press briefing that the United States Intelligence Community (IC) has “determined that there was malicious cyber activity intended to interfere with our elections.” Needless to say, we must condemn and push back forcefully against any state-sponsored cyber attacks against Americans, especially those that seek to influence the democratic process.
As I have said before, any foreign intervention in our elections is entirely unacceptable. Russian intervention is especially problematic because, under President Putin, Russia has been an aggressor that has and continues to consistently undermine American interests, disregarded basic notions of freedom and human rights, and harm the interest of global peace in concert with our enemies and adversaries. That said, exploiting the work of our intelligence community for partisan purposes does a grave disservice to those professionals and potentially jeopardizes our national security. As we work to protect our democracy from foreign influence, however, we should not cast doubt on the clear and decisive outcome of this election.
Throughout this Congress, Chairman Nunes and the House Intelligence Committee have worked diligently to confront and defend against the cyber threats posed to the security of America’s private and public institutions by foreign governments, terrorist organizations, and an array of dangerous criminal actors. While a great deal more work lies ahead on this front, real and much-needed progress has been made in enhancing our nation’s cyber security. Rest assured, this important work will continue in earnest in the next Congress and beyond and such efforts have my full support.
As part of this imperative ongoing effort, on December 12, 2016, Chairman Nunes sent a letter to James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, regarding these alleged Russian cyber activities. The letter calls on Director Clapper to coordinate with the FBI and CIA to provide the House Intelligence Committee with a written assessment of the IC information surrounding Russian cyber involvement in the election. Additionally, this letter insists that Director Clapper brief the House Intelligence Committee on the status and plans for the Presidentially-directed review of any known or suspected Russian involvement.
On March 1, 2017, the House Intelligence Committee released an official statement in which it established the parameters for its investigation moving forward. Chairman Nunes confirmed the Committee’s continued determination to expand its inquiries into Russian cyber activity related to the November 2017 election, and conduct the subsequent investigation fully and on a bipartisan basis. In the event that you are interested in viewing this statement, click here.
Then, on April 6, 2017, Chairman Nunes released a statement in which he announced Representative Mike Conaway, with assistance from Representative Trey Gowdy and Representative Tom Rooney, would be temporarily taking charge of the House Intelligence Committee's Russia investigation. Chairman Nunes has earned my trust over many years with his integrity and dedication to the critical work that the Intelligence Committee does to keep America safe. He continues to have that trust, and I know he is eager to demonstrate to the House Ethics Committee that he has followed all proper guidelines and laws. In the meantime, it is clear that this process would be a distraction for the Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russian interference in our election. I fully support Chairman Nunes's decision to step aside as the lead Republican on this probe, and am confident that Representative Conaway will oversee a professional investigation into Russian actions.