AUGUSTA, Maine — U.S. Sen. Angus King joined Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee in a Wednesday letter asking President Barack Obama to declassify information on Russian influence in the 2016 U.S. election that he said is “of grave concern.”
The letter says there is additional information on Russia and the election that “should be declassified and released to the public” and specifics are being communicated “through classified channels.”
King, a Maine independent who caucuses with Democrats and is on the committee, didn’t shed more light on that information in a Thursday interview, but he said it came from intelligence officials during a closed and classified hearing.
President-elect Donald Trump, a Republican, benefited from a number of email leaks that damaged Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, such as Wikileaks troves that included transcripts of paid speeches to Wall Street firms and emails from the Democratic National Committee, in which officials criticized the campaign of Clinton’s top primary rival.
Outgoing U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in October that the American intelligence community was confident that the Russian government directed those hacks, saying they were intended to interfere with the election.
Trump said in July that he hoped Russia would hack Clinton’s emails, though he also said the idea that it hacked emails to help him was “ridiculous.” Russia has denied this kind of interference, but officials said they were in touch with his campaign and the Russian parliament applauded when it received news of his election.
King said he didn’t want to “relitigate” the election but that the issue of Russian meddling is one “of grave concern.”
“This isn’t about Donald Trump’s election or Hillary Clinton’s defeat,” King said. “This is about an extraordinary, bold, aggressive movement by a foreign country to influence our elections.”
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, also is on the committee and didn’t sign the letter. Spokeswoman Annie Clark said in a statement that Collins agreed with Clapper’s decision to make a statement on Russian meddling in October, but deferred to the administration on the question of releasing more information.
“Should these Obama administration officials wish to reassess their decision regarding how, when, and what other information to declassify, that is their decision to make,” Clark said.
Representatives for the committee’s chairman, Sen. Richard Burr, R-South Carolina, didn’t respond to a request for comment on the letter, led by Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and also signed by fellow Democrats Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Mark Warner of Virginia, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Jack Reed of Rhode Island.