Trump gets pushback from GOP senators on Russian links

For the first time since his election, Donald Trump is under pressure from some prominent Republicans.
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Donald Trump is for the first time since his election coming under some pressure from the Republican Party after revelations regarding Russia over the weekend.

After a secret assessment, CIA sources told the Washington Post they concluded that hackers linked to the Putin regime sought to aid Trump's election campaign by hacking Democratic emails and passing the information to WikiLeaks.

The New York Times reports the hackers also accessed Republican email databases, but only passed on the contents of the Democrats to Wikileaks, whose publication of the emails dogged Hillary Clinton's campaign in the run-up to Nov. 8.

The president-elect's transition team dismissed the findings on Friday, saying "these are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," NPR reports, but the revelations have raised alarm among some in the GOP.

A bipartisan group of four senators – two of them prominent GOPers Sen. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, issued a statement Sunday calling for an investigation into possible Russian involvement in American elections.

"For years, foreign adversaries have directed cyberattacks at America’s physical, economic, and military infrastructure, while stealing our intellectual property," the statement, also signed by Democrat Sens. Charles Schumer and Jack Reed, said. "Now our democratic institutions have been targeted. Recent reports of Russian interference in our election should alarm every American."

Trump continued to respond to the growing controversy surrounding the reports on Monday, tweeting why this hadn't been brought up before the election, even though discussion over Russian hacking became a major talking point before Nov. 8.

The Washington Post notes a secret intelligence briefing for congressional leaders was held in September in which concerns over Russian involvement was raised, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is said to have "voiced doubts about the veracity of the intelligence."

Possible appointments causing problems

It's not just over hacking that Trump is facing some pushback from Republicans, some of the people he's lining up for major cabinet positions are causing friction too.

Sen. Marco Rubio, who was beaten by Trump in the GOP primaries, has expressed concern that Trump is considering ExxonMobil chairman Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, with Trump himself citing the oil executive's Russian links as a reason he's being considered.

"He’s much more than a business executive; he’s a world-class player," Trump told Fox News on Sunday. "He knows many of the players, and he knows them well. He does massive deals in Russia — for the company, not for himself.”

Here's what Sen. Rubio tweeted in response.

Sen. McCain is also dubious about his potential appointment, adding that while Tillerson's Russia ties could be "strictly commercial" and that the Senate should give him a fair hearing, he said "it should be a matter of concern," Fox News notes.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Tillerson's links to Russia, noting in 2013 he received the Order of Friendship from Putin, under whose leadership Exxon has been able to expand its Russian business while rivals have faced regulatory obstacles.

Sen. Rand Paul meanwhile has vowed he will try to stop the potential appointment of John Bolton as No. 2 at the State Department.

He told Politico he could join with Democrats to stop the former ambassador to the UN's appointment from getting out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee if Democrats on the committee are against it (there are 10 Republicans and nine Democrats on the committee.)

"John Bolton doesn’t get it. He still believes in regime change. He’s still a big cheerleader for the Iraq War," Paul told Politico. "John Bolton is so far out of it and has such a naive understanding of the world."

Bolton is noted for being in favor of regime change in Iran, with the International Business Times noting he wrote an op-ed in 2015 titled "To Stop Iran's Bomb, Bomb Iran."

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