WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that two Senate committees will investigate CIA allegations that Russia deployed hackers to disrupt the American presidential election to help President-elect Donald Trump and hurt Democrat Hillary Clinton.
He said the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee will conduct bipartisan reviews.
"Obviously, any foreign breach of our cybersecurity measures is disturbing and I strongly condemn any such efforts," McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement that he read to reporters at a news conference at the U.S. Capitol.
He said he agrees with incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., and Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., that possible Russian interference in the U.S. election "cannot be a partisan issue."
On the House side, Speaker Paul Ryan said Monday that the House Intelligence Committee will continue to look into cyber threats posed by foreign governments. He did not announce any new investigations and said recent reports from the CIA should not be used to "cast doubt" on the legitimacy of Trump's victory.
"We must condemn and push back forcefully against any state-sponsored cyber attacks on our democratic process," Ryan said in a statement. "Throughout this Congress, Chairman (Devin) Nunes and the Intelligence Committee have been working diligently on the cyber threats posed by foreign governments and terrorist organizations to the security and institutions of the United States. This important work will continue and has my support."
Ryan reiterated his past statements that "any foreign intervention in our elections is entirely unacceptable."
"And any intervention by Russia is especially problematic because, under President Putin, Russia has been an aggressor that consistently undermines American interests," Ryan said. "At the same time, 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, we should not cast doubt on the clear and decisive outcome of this election."
Trump spokesman Jason Miller, speaking to reporters by phone Monday, continued to reject the CIA's analysis of Russian interference in the election.
"Going back to this overall narrative that's in the news right now, I think really clearly what this is is an attempt to try to de-legitimize President-Elect Trump's win," Miller said. "That really seems to be...what's going on here."
Trump on Sunday dismissed the CIA's conclusion that Russia tried to help his campaign as "ridiculous."
McConnell emphasized that he has faith in the CIA and the entire U.S. intelligence community.
"Let me say that I have the highest confidence in the intelligence community, and especially the Central Intelligence Agency," McConnell said. "The CIA is filled with selfless patriots, many of whom anonymously risk their lives for the American people."
Despite calls from some Democrats that he create a special investigatory committee to examine Russia's attempts to interfere in the election, McConnell said he believes the Senate Intelligence Committee should take the lead.
"Let me remind all of you that the Senate Intelligence Committee — on which I and the chairman of the Armed Services Committee sit as ex officio members — is more than capable of conducting a complete review of this matter," McConnell said. "And Senator Schumer will soon join us on that committee and he can review this matter through the regular order."
"I have every confidence in Chairman Burr that he will review this matter in a responsible manner," he continued. "The Obama administration is also now launching a review, and when the Office of the Director of National Intelligence completes its review, there will be additional information released to the public in a responsible manner."
He said the Armed Services Committee will focus on cybersecurity issues and the threat that America faces from cyber attacks.
"Chairman McCain has announced that he will conduct a review within the Armed Services Committee of the threat we face from cyber-attacks, and that will be useful, as we need to integrate our cyber capabilities into our overall war-fighting doctrine," McConnell said.
Schumer said on Twitter that he welcomes McConnell's support for a "thorough bipartisan investigation." He also said that Congress "must find out how (the hacks) happened and stop future attacks."
We welcome @SenateMajLdr's support for a thorough bipartisan investigation into reports that Russia interfered with the 2016 election.— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) December 12, 2016
Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, called Monday for a joint investigation by the House and Senate intelligence committees.
"The seriousness of the Russian meddling...during our presidential election merits a bicameral and bipartisan Congressional investigation," Schiff said. "The House and Senate Intelligence Committees should conduct a joint inquiry, along with public hearings similar to what was done after 9/11, to determine the length and breadth of Russian interference in our elections. This investigation would serve the purpose of informing the public, developing a concerted response, deterring the Russians from further malignant cyber action and inoculating the public against such manipulation in the future."
Contributing: David Jackson