Congress Increasingly Concerned About Russian Election Meddling

Trump campaign doesn't respond when asked about telling Putin to stop

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told reporters that there was a "reasonable certainty" of Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told reporters that there was a "reasonable certainty" of Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted September 16, 2016 at 11:01am

As Donald Trump was in Washington on Friday to promote his new Pennsylvania Avenue hotel, concerns continued to grow a few blocks away on Capitol Hill about Russia undermining the U.S. election.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said she was talking to her House counterpart, fellow Californian Adam B. Schiff, about what could be done regarding the threat.

“I think Russia ought to understand the ramifications of this, and the animus that’s created by it. This is our electoral process. The United States of America runs our election. Russia does not,” Feinstein said. “Nor do we interfere in Russian elections. And to have this tradition, this practice, this legal situation really decimated by hackers is something that is not acceptable.”

Feinstein told reporters that there was a “reasonable certainty” of Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential contest.

“So I hope, at the highest level, Russia will understand this, and Putin will give the direction to cease and desist,” she said.

Multiple reports have cited ties between Russian entities and the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s emails, and on Wednesday, House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul said in a CNN interview that the Republican National Committee had been hacked as well, though the Texas congressman quickly backpedaled, saying he “misspoke.”

The RNC, for its part, said it knew of no such intrusion. And a request for more information Friday about anything else the campaign committee may know did not get an immediate reply.

Likewise, the Trump campaign did not respond when asked if the candidate would join Feinstein in calling for Russian President Vladimir Putin to put a stop to any undermining of the U.S. election.

Back in late July, Trump suggested that Russian hackers should set about finding missing emails from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of State.

“Of course I’m being sarcastic,” Trump said in a Fox News interview shortly thereafter.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen on Thursday asked Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker for a stand-alone hearing on Russian actions, citing not only the hacking of the DNC, but other efforts as well.

In a letter to Corker, the New Hampshire Democrat suggested that members may also need to be briefed in a classified setting.

“At this moment, the U.S. intelligence community is reportedly investigating broader Russian covert operations in our country designed to undermine public confidence in our electoral processes,” Shaheen said. “These developments raise the sobering possibility that Russia is employing the tactics it has used to influence elections in places like Ukraine and Georgia, this time in the United States.”

Later Thursday, Corker told Roll Call that he had talked to Shaheen about her request for a hearing.

The Tennessee Republican said his staff was talking to Foreign Reliations ranking member Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland’s staff about “how much fact there is to deal with” and if there’s substance for a hearing beyond speculation.

Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.Contact Lesniewski at and follow him on Twitter @nielslesniewski.