Senate National Security Panels to Plan Response to Russian Hacking Allegations

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Leaders of three top Senate national security committees are to meet Wednesday to discuss alleged Russian hacking of last month’s elections, and the Senate Foreign Relations committee has set a closed-door briefing on the Obama administration’s response for Thursday, a committee aide told The Cipher Brief late Tuesday.

According to the aide, Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), the chairman and ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee; John McCain  (R-AZ) and Jack Reed (D-RI), who hold similar positions on the Armed Services Committee; and Richard Burr (R-NC) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VV)  the leaders of the Intelligence Committee will meet to discuss how each committee plans to deal with the Russian hacking allegations.

Senate Armed Services has already announced it will hold an open hearing on the matter Thursday with the Director of National Intelligence, the NSA Director and the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence testifying.   A Congressional aide said that in addition, Foreign Relations will hold a classified briefing on recent administration sanctions in response to the alleged hacking and harassment of U.S. diplomats Thursday afternoon.

Briefers include Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, Director of State’s Officer of Foreign Missions Gentry Smith, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Cybersecurity and Communications Danny Toiler, according to the aide, who said the administration has so far refused to provider witnesses for a public hearing.

President-elect Donald Trump, who has disputed the Intelligence Community’s assessment that Russia was behind the hacking, said over the weekend that he has additional information that he will make public this week.   He also is expected to be briefed by intelligence officials.

Steve Hirsch is senior national security editor at The Cipher Brief.