Two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have announced a bill to investigate Russia’s interference in the recent U.S. presidential election.
Called the “Protecting Our Democracy Act,” the bill would establish an 18-month investigation operating with an initial budget of $3 million. The commission would bring together six Democrats and six Republicans to issue subpoenas, hold public hearings, and produce a public report.
The announcement comes on the heels of a letter sent to President Barack Obama by Democratic lawmakers urging the White House to hold classified briefings on Russian hacking of American political organizations, campaign email leaks, WikiLeaks, fake news propaganda, and any other possible election interference.
“Foreign interference presents a win-win for Russia – which we must counter,” the Democratic congressional leaders wrote in the letter. “By eroding Americans’ and foreigners’ trust in U.S. institutions, Russia both weakens our country and sows global instability and uncertainty. Both present a boon for Russia and a loss for those working to maintain peace and prosperity around the world through the leadership of the United States and its allies.”
Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings — one of the letter’s signatories, the bill’s co-sponsor, and a ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform — said the following at a press conference on the bill: “Experts agree that there is overwhelming evidence that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election. Overwhelming. It is not disputed, it’s overwhelming.”
However, not everyone is in agreement. “I don’t believe it. I don’t believe [Russia] interfered,” President-elect Donald Trump told TIME, indicating that allegations of Russian interference were politically driven before further implying that American intelligence organizations had lied about said interference.
“He is denying that the sun sets in the West,” said California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, another one of the letter’s signatories and one of the bill’s sponsors, in response at a press conference on the matter.
South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham seems to agree with Swalwell, telling CNN he believes that Russia “did interfere with our elections.”
“Trump should take a real tough tone with Russia, I think they’re one of the most destabilizing influences on the world stage,” Graham said. “It’s pretty clear to me that WikiLeaks was designed to hurt [former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary] Clinton and it could be us tomorrow,” referring to the leaked emails stolen from her campaign published on the site.
“I’m going after Russia in every way you can go after Russia,” Graham said. “I want Putin personally to pay a price.”