CAPITOL HILL - U.S. lawmakers of both political parties said the American people are owed a thorough accounting of Russia’s meddling in last month’s presidential election, with one prominent Republican urging sanctions on Russian hackers.
“It’s pretty clear that Russia was involved in this past election and collected data from both sides but released data for one side only [to hurt Democrats] in an effort to skew the election,” the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, told VOA.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham concurred.
“There’s a lot of evidence they interfered in our election by hacking into systems and joining forces with others to release information that was favorable to one side versus the other,” Graham said. “And that’s a precedent you cannot allow to go unchecked.”
“I want to find out what they did, fact versus fiction, and come up with sanctions that really will bite on Russia – on individuals in Russia" responsible for hacking, Graham added.
Such intentions set up a potential confrontation with President-elect Donald Trump, who has asserted that the election was free of Russian involvement.
In a rare public statement in October, U.S. government officials said cyber attacks on Democratic political organizations and the emails of former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's staff were directed by "Russia's senior-most officials."
Several Democrats from both houses of Congress have written the White House urging the release of more information on the subject.
Feinstein did not add her name to the letter, and said patience is needed for now.
"Certain investigations are still going on. And I think they ought to be completed prior to any release of information," Feinstein said. "One day it will all come out."
Even more probes are possible. Democratic Congressmen Eric Swalwell and Elijah Cummings Wednesday introduced legislation that would create a bipartisan panel to investigate Russian meddling.
Republican Graham said the issue is not partisan. While Democrats were targeted this past year, he said Republicans could be in another nation’s crosshairs in the next election.
"What if the Iranians do this?” Graham said. “If Trump is tough on the Iranians, as he says he’s going to be, you could see a nation hacking into the Republican side. And that leads to chaos."
Questions remain as to how foreign hackers obtained emails from Clinton's campaign and published them via WikiLeaks in the closing stretch of the presidential campaign.
Democratic Senator Ben Cardin said he expects more information will be forthcoming from the outgoing Obama administration.
“They have information. They’ve shared that information, and I’ve been in briefings where I’ve come to know some of the things that have happened,” Cardin said. “I expect they are evaluating how to respond – there are still weeks left in this administration.”
Wayne Lee contributed to this report