Electors Call for Intelligence Briefing on Russian Hacking Allegations

Move comes before they cast their votes.

ByABC News
December 12, 2016, 5:44 PM

— -- Ten members of the Electoral College have signed a letter urging Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to provide them with classified briefings on Russia's hacking and cyber involvement in the U.S. elections.

Christine Pelosi, the daughter of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and an elector from California, spearheaded drafting the letter and referred to the request as a "day pass" so that electors could be fully informed before they cast their votes next week.

Nine of the 10 signatories come from states that Hillary Clinton won, though Pelosi said the news media should "stay tuned" for additional backers.

"We further emphasize Alexander Hamilton's assertion in Federalist Paper No. 68 that a core purpose of the Electoral College was to prevent a 'desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.' The United States intelligence community has now concluded with 'high confidence' that a foreign power, namely Russia, acted covertly to interfere in the presidential campaign with the intent of promoting Donald Trump's candidacy," the letter states.

"The electors require to know from the intelligence community whether there are ongoing investigations into ties between Donald Trump, his campaign or associates and Russian government interference in the election, the scope of those investigations, how far those investigations may have reached and who was involved in those investigations," it reads.

Hllary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta, released a statement today saying that the letter "raises very grave issues" about the election.

Christine Pelosi told ABC News that the information would be helpful for members of Congress before Cabinet confirmation hearings.

"Was this all just happenstance, happening around Donald Trump, without any of his agents encouraging it, other than the statements he himself made, or whether there is in fact more information?" she told ABC News.

Podesta stressed that the intelligence community has made it known that it is "confident" that the Russian government played a role in the hacking as early as Oct. 7 but that "this matter did not receive the attention it deserved."

"We now know that the CIA has determined Russia's interference in our elections was for the purpose of electing Donald Trump. This should distress every American," Podesta wrote in the statement obtained by ABC News. "Never before in the history of our republic have we seen such an effort to undermine the bedrock of our democracy."

Electoral College expert George C. Edwards III, a political science professor at Texas A&M University, told ABC News that Podesta's public call for electors to be briefed is "certainly not typical, that's for sure."

"The further action would be for electors to become faithless," Edwards said, meaning that the electors wouldn't vote for the candidate who won their state, as they are bound to do by state laws.

Bev Hollingworth, a retired hotel owner and New Hampshire elector who also signed the letter, said that she believed her role as an elector was "not just a ceremonial thing."

"There is also a constitutional duty that we have to carry out, and that is why I signed onto this letter," she added. "I think this goes beyond politics ... It should put us on guard for future elections."

Hollingworth said she was alarmed by the close ties that Trump's favored pick for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, appears to have with Russia. She said the connection deserves "serious consideration."

"I am overwhelmed in what has transpired in the last day or so and what I have read about that connection," she said.

Related Topics