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House Cyber Leader Calls for Special Cyber Committee

Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I.

Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I. // Alex Brandon/AP File Photo

One of the Congress’ top cyber advocates on Friday called on House Speaker Paul Ryan to create a special cybersecurity committee that would lead an investigation into Russian hacks aimed at disrupting the 2016 election.

The proposed select committee would cut across jurisdictional lines to “investigate pressing cybersecurity matters, starting with Russian interference with the election,” according to the statement from Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I.

The FBI now agrees with a CIA assessment that Russia’s interference in the election was aimed at helping President-elect Donald Trump win, rather than simply sowing chaos, according to a Washington Post report out Friday based on anonymous sources.

The intelligence community’s official determination thus far is only that the top levels of the Russian government directed the breaches and that they intended to “interfere with the U.S. election process.”

House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes has declined to launch a special investigation into the election-year hacks, while Ryan has not taken a firm position on the question.

“I believe a Select Committee on Cybersecurity is the best way to streamline oversight and ensure a thorough, fair investigation into this disturbing attack on our democracy,” said Langevin, who co-founded the House Cybersecurity Caucus and has served on major House panels with cyber jurisdiction, including the Armed Services, Homeland Security and Intelligence committees.  

The call comes a day after losing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton reportedly attributed the breaches at the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to a “personal beef” between herself and Russian President Vladimir Putin over her assertion while secretary of state that Russian parliamentary elections were rigged. She said the breaches contributed to her losing the election during a meeting with campaign donors.

Clinton also reportedly endorsed a 9/11 Commission-style investigation into the breaches.

President Barack Obama also pledged a response to the Russian hacking in an interview with NPR posted Thursday, saying the response would be both “proportional” and “meaningful.” Vice President Joe Biden previously made a similar pledge.

“I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections that we need to take action and we will at a time and place of our own choosing,” Obama said, adding that “some of it may be explicit and publicized, some of it may not be.”

Obama said he has spoken with Putin directly about the breach.

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