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Rep. Adam Schiff Reviews Intelligence Report On Russian Election-Year Hacking

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

For reaction to the intelligence report, we turn to Congressman Adam Schiff of California. He's the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and he has also seen the classified version. When I spoke with him earlier today, he said he found the evidence of Russian interference overwhelming.

ADAM SCHIFF: I've been on the Intelligence Committee for about a decade, and I think this is among the strongest evidence I've seen on any major finding so I think the case is very powerful. I hope it certainly persuaded the president-elect today, but who knows?

SHAPIRO: We have been hearing about evidence of Russian hacking for the last few weeks. Have you seen anything in this report that significantly changes what we already know?

SCHIFF: You know, unfortunately I really can't go into the specifics about it. You know, I can say this, I was very disappointed in the statement that the president-elect put out after he was briefed and received the report. The part that really, I think, struck me was a claim in his statement that the report - or the implication was the report showed that the hacking had no effect on the outcome of the election. That's not really the subject of the report. And, in fact, I think that conclusion that he's reached is contradicted by all the facts. It's one thing to say that there's no evidence that the Russians hacked our voting machines and tampered with the vote counting, and that's accurate. There's no evidence of that. But it's another to say that the daily dumping of derogatory information that was hurtful to Secretary Clinton and helpful to Donald Trump had no effect on the outcome. Clearly, it had effect on the campaign.

SHAPIRO: It's hard to remember an issue that has so unified Democrats and Republicans in Congress, while President-elect Donald Trump stands on the other side of this. How do you expect Congress and the White House to move forward on the Russia issue?

SCHIFF: There's bipartisan support, I think, to establish stronger sanctions on Russia, a better deterrent against future Russian meddling. I don't think what we've done yet is going to be enough. And so you see senators like Graham and McCain and others who are willing to push hard for this, as well as many Democrats.

SHAPIRO: And so are you saying that you expect Congress to write sanctions into law even if once Trump is president he opposes that?

SCHIFF: I do, I do. I think there's going to be support among members on both sides of the aisle, there already is. The question it will be - does the Republican leadership have the will to take it up? Because I think there's going to be very strong support among the members.

SHAPIRO: What specifically do you expect Congress to do?

SCHIFF: Well, what I think we should do, both in the Congress and in the new administration, is bring together a really focused effort on pushing back against Russian covert influence all over the world. And I think our countermeasures are really inadequate, so we need to identify those that are the Russian trolls working on social media, how they're using their media platforms, how they're using their cyber operations. What are they doing? How do we push back against it? How do we inform our allies of their actions? What are the whole spectrum of countermeasures we need to take to protect ourselves and our way of life?

SHAPIRO: And what does this mean about future elections in the United States if Russia had such a significant involvement in this past one?

SCHIFF: It means that they're very much at risk. And probably the more proximate fear right now is we have very significant German elections coming up, and I think the Russians have every intention to interfere in the elections as well as the elections of France and a lot of our other European allies. So this is a very clear threat. It's one not only to the United States, but to liberal democracy everywhere.

SHAPIRO: Congressman Adam Schiff, Democrat of California, thanks for joining us.

SCHIFF: You bet. Thank you.

SHAPIRO: And NPR has reached out to several of Congressman Schiff's Republican colleagues, including the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes. They have declined interviews. We continue to pursue a Republican perspective on the report.

(SOUNDBITE OF JINSANG SONG, "LEARNING") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.