WASHINGTON D.C. (CBS News) Intelligence officials were back on Capitol Hill today this time to field questions about their report that accuses Russia of trying to interfere in the presidential election. And now news outlets has learned there's compelling evidence that suggests that it did.
Multiple government and intelligence officials say that Russia gathered potentially compromising information about President-elect Donald Trump, but chose not to disclose it during the 2016 campaign. Instead, it opted to only release emails aimed at damaging the Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Democratic U.S. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware says, “If this report were true that Russian intelligence had truly compromising material on the President elect and that there was some cooperation or collusion between his campaign and the Russians, that would be unprecedented in American history.”
The information was outlined in a memo attached to the classified report on Russian cyber activities during the election – that was released only to President Obama, Mister Trump and eight Congressional leaders.
President-elect Trump responded to the news Tuesday night, tweeting: “Fake News, a total political witch hunt.”
Top U.S. Intelligence officials faced lawmakers on Capitol Hill Tuesday to discuss the de-classified portion of the report.
Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia said to other legislators, “In any of your careers have you ever seen this level of Russian interference in on political process?....I have not.”
President Elect Trump previously acknowledged Russia's actions but emphasized they had absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election.
Tuesday’s hearing comes as a group of bi-partisan Senators introduced legislation intended to hit Russia with sanctions for its cyber activities. The bill would impose visa bans and freeze assets of people who engage in significant activates undermining the cyber security of public or private infrastructure or democratic institutions.