"Every American should be alarmed by Russia's attack on our nation." These words from Sen. John McCain, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, as the panel kicked off a hearing Thursday into foreign cyberthreats, with Russia at the top of the agenda, the New York Times reports. McCain, an outspoken advocate for investigating hacking allegations surrounding Election 2016, stressed that the goal was "not to question the outcome of the presidential election," but to understand the "unprecedented attack on our democracy." Sitting on the committee are Sens. Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, and new member Elizabeth Warren, and those testifying include Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, one of the first in the hot seat. Clapper's response when asked if "there's any credibility we should attach" to Julian Assange: "Not in my view." McCain added, "I would second those comments." Meanwhile, Donald Trump appeared to agree with Assange in a Wednesday tweet, then denied it in a Thursday follow-up. Elsewhere:
- An anonymous US official tells the AP that President Obama has received the classified report on the Russian hack job, as well as other "foreign meddling" in the election. Trump will receive his briefing on the report Friday, as originally scheduled (and despite his assertions of a "very strange" delay).
- The Atlantic delves into some of the hard-hitting questions, including why there's so much "fuss" ("Didn’t we already know about Russia hacking the Democratic National Committee and others?"), what other countries and entities Russia reportedly hacked, and whether the CIA's case that Russia tried to sway the election for Trump has legs.
- McCain and Graham are the "GOP mavericks" instrumental in this investigation, per Politico, which notes "neither is likely to pull punches" and both "have struggled to come to terms" with Trump's insistence that Russia didn't interfere. "When it comes to foreign policy, I agree with him on Iran, I agree with him on China," Graham says. "Russia: I have no idea where he's coming from."
- Others taking issue with Trump's position, per CNN and Bloomberg: top intel officers like Clapper, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Marcel Lettre, and Michael Rogers, the chief of US Cyber Command and director of the NSA. "We assess that only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized the recent election-focused data thefts and disclosures, based on the scope and sensitivity of the targets," the trio said in a joint statement.
- Trump is in for a "rude awakening," former Democratic Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell told CNBC. "Vladimir Putin does not wish the United States well."
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