Congress must investigate the Russian attack on America’s 2016 election and explain how such meddling will be prevented in the future.

Share story

Congress must set aside partisanship and independently investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

This was an attack on U.S. sovereignty and the legitimacy of our democratic process. Congress must investigate and explain how this meddling will be prevented in future elections.

Until this is fully addressed, doubts will linger about the legitimacy of our electoral process and whether it is subject to foreign manipulation. This compromises America’s standing as the standard-bearer of democracy.

In case you missed it, the U.S. intelligence community last week publicly issued the nonclassified version of a remarkable report affirming that Russian President Vladimir Putin led an attack on the U.S. election process.

Russia has long sought to “undermine the U.S.-led liberal democratic order, but these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations,” the report said.

“Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency,” it continued.

This establishes that President-elect Trump will forever have an asterisk next to his election, similar to the records of major-league baseball players whose performance was believed to be enhanced by steroids.

What’s done is done, however. Trump won. Now Congress must restore faith in the democratic process and ensure future elections aren’t manipulated by foreign adversaries.

This threat to America’s core deserves as much congressional scrutiny as the 2012 attack on a consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and Hillary Clinton’s sloppy email practices.

It’s shameful that lawmakers are now dragging their feet and hedging on this top priority.

Americans shouldn’t be sidetracked by Trump’s efforts to downplay the significance of this historic development and his administration’s apparent Russian sympathies.

Trump correctly said after his intelligence briefing Friday that election machines were not tampered with, but that’s irrelevant. Saying so is flimflam — it’s an attempt to diminish the attack’s significance.

As clearly shown by the intelligence report, there are ways that Russia and other foreign countries can now meddle in elections and steer votes toward chosen candidates, without tampering with voting machines.

“My take is this is an act of war,” said Chris Jones, an associate professor at the University of Washington’s Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies.

Jones said the Russian government brought its experience pursuing regime change, by disrupting and destabilizing the U.S. election.

Trump is also correct in saying that America should pursue a better relationship with Russia. It’s tricky, but we can build on our ties with Russia while rejecting the unacceptable behavior of its authoritarian president.

President Obama’s decision to expel diplomats and close Russian facilities in the U.S. was just the reasonable start of our response.

Congress must respond by fully investigating the Russian attack on our democracy and assuring it won’t happen again.