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Senate Panel Plans To Investigate Russian Activities During U.S. Elections

President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a Jan. 11 news conference, in which he acknowledged that Russia hacked Democratic campaign communications.
Evan Vucci
President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a Jan. 11 news conference, in which he acknowledged that Russia hacked Democratic campaign communications.

The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence say they intend to investigate the allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. elections.

In a joint statement, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., chairman of the committee and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the vice-chairman, said "we believe that it is critical to have a full understanding of the scope of Russian intelligence activities impacting the United States."

The announcement comes after President-elect Donald Trump acknowledged that Russia was behind the hacking of the Democratic Party in the period leading up to his election.

But Trump continues to deny that the hacking helped his election campaign.

The senators promised a bipartisan inquiry into events that led to the Intelligence Community assessment released on Jan. 6.

They said their inquiry will include, but is not limited to:

"A review of the intelligence that informed the Intelligence Community Assessment "Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections;

"Counterintelligence concerns related to Russia and the 2016 U.S. election, including any intelligence regarding links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns;

"Russian cyber activity and other "active measures" directed against the U.S., both as it regards the 2016 election and more broadly."

The lawmakers said they'll hold hearings on Russian intelligence activity, but also warned that much of their business will be conducted "behind closed doors because we take seriously our obligation to protect sources and methods." The committee will produce classified and unclassified reports on its findings.

"The Committee will follow the intelligence wherever it leads. We will conduct this inquiry expeditiously, and we will get it right. When possible, the Committee will hold open hearings to help inform the public about the issues," they said.

In separate comments, Burr said the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence already has held 10 hearings on Russia's activity around the world.

Warner invoked a more ominous tone, saying, "This issue impacts the foundations of our democratic system, it's that important. ... If it turns out that SSCI cannot properly conduct this investigation, I will support legislation to empower whoever can do it right."

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Richard Gonzales is NPR's National Desk Correspondent based in San Francisco. Along with covering the daily news of region, Gonzales' reporting has included medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California relevant to the rest of the country.
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