Senator Collins Questions Intelligence Community Leaders on Russian Interference in the 2016 Election

In exchange with the Director of National Intelligence, Senator Collins stresses importance of comprehensive approach to countering cyber attacks

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, questioned leaders of the Intelligence community today at a hearing that examined Russian intelligence activities surrounding the 2016 election.

The Committee, which has focused extensively on Russia’s activities around the world for the past two years, reviewed the recently released declassified report, “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections.” Hearing witnesses included James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence; John Brennan, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency; Admiral Michael Rogers, Director of the National Security Agency; and James Comey, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“I appreciate the work that has been done by the Intelligence community to produce this report, and I accept its findings,” remarked Senator Collins. “I do think that it’s important that we understand more fully the extent of Russian intrusions into the electoral process to try to shape public opinion.”

Senator Collins emphasized the fact that there is no evidence that the voting totals or any of the emails that were released were either manipulated or changed. Although Russia did not change the outcome of the election, Senator Collins noted that Russia’s inexcusable and appalling hacking sowed seeds of distrust about the integrity of our elections. Senator Collins also expressed concern that, while Russia’s interference in the election was serious, other hacking attempts against the United States appear to have been overlooked. She faulted the current administration for not being more aggressive in countering cyber attacks.

“There’s also an active Russian campaign to infiltrate, as you have said, military systems, defense contractor systems, critical infrastructure, commercial interests,” Senator Collins told DNI Clapper. “Don't we need to take a broad look at all of the efforts by our adversaries who either control critical infrastructure, for example, or influence decision-making in those arenas as well?”

DNI Clapper agreed with Senator Collins’ point, noting that the election hacking was just one attempt by Russia “to infiltrate many entities across the board.”

In December 2016, Senator Collins supported Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr’s (R-NC) announcement that the Committee would review Russian intelligence activities related to the election as part of the Committee’s continued, extensive focus on Russia. The Senate Intelligence Committee has held more than ten hearings and briefings regarding the threat posed by Russia, including its active measures and efforts to exert covert influence over peoples and governments through front groups, covert broadcasting, media manipulation, and disinformation.

To watch Senator Collins' Q&A with Intelligence community leaders, click HERE