Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado will defy President-elect Trump and Senate Majority Leader McConnell by introducing a bill that would create a special panel to investigate Russian hacking and election meddling.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) told POLITICO he would introduce a bill that, if passed, would mandate a new select Senate committee on cybersecurity. The move could intensify pressure on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who so far has resisted appointing a select committee on cybersecurity. He insists the chamber’s traditional committees, led by the intelligence panel, should handle the issue.
“From North Korea’s hack of Sony Pictures to Iran’s attack on a New York dam, it’s evident that we are facing a growing cybersecurity challenge. The nature and complexity of recent cyber-attacks require a whole of government approach to cyberspace and the development of federal policy to mitigate the threat and protect everything from personal information to the security of our critical infrastructure,” Gardner said in a statement.
Mitch McConnell didn’t want a select panel because he knew about the hacking activities in October and rejected a proposed joint bipartisan statement with President Obama before election day.
By sending the investigation to a regular committee, McConnell is hoping to tap down the level of publicity that the investigation could generate. A select panel will be a big screaming red flag to the mainstream media. The press will be looking for stories on the new Trump administration, and a select panel would be the perfect fit to dominate cable news.
President-elect Trump has been dismissive of Russian hacking and does not want an investigation. With three Republican senators behind the effort, any legislation to create a select panel now has a majority. If Republicans keep joining the effort, McConnell may have no choice but to allow a vote on creating a select panel.
Trump’s Russian hacking nightmare before Christmas has taken another step towards becoming a reality.