US Electoral College seeks detailed info about Russian hacking

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Washington, Dec 14 (IANS) Forty members of the US Electoral College are asking the CIA to publicly explain its report concluding that Russia launched or sponsored cyberattacks seeking to help Donald Trump win the November 8 presidential election.

Thirty Democratic electors on Tuesday signed an open letter to the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, drafted on Tuesday by 10 other electors and supported by the team of former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, EFE news reported.

The Electoral College members want information about the document the CIA prepared for the administration — and which was revealed on the weekend by The Washington Post — saying that the agency and other US intelligence organisations had concluded that Russia’s cyberattacks were not designed simply to destabilise the US electoral process but also to help the Republican candidate.

The electors are demanding to receive this information “immediately” so that they have time to evaluate it before they are scheduled to cast their votes in the Electoral College to determine the country’s next President.

Trump won the election with 306 electoral votes to Clinton’s 232, but technically his triumph will not be official until the electors meet in their state capitals to vote on December 19.

The United States has an indirect electoral system whereby 538 electors — corresponding to the number of federal congressmen and senators from each state — hold the final cards in determining who wins the presidency.

Some electors are “bound” to vote for the person who wins the popular vote in their states, but others are not, and there is no federal law obligating them to vote in accord with the popular vote in their states.

Thus, it is not necessary to win the nationwide popular vote to garner the most electoral votes, a situation that has arisen this year, given that Clinton beat Trump by almost three million votes in the popular vote, EFE news added.

Of the 40 electors who signed the letter asking the CIA for a detailed explanation of Russian hacking, just one is a Republican — Christopher Suprun — the only person from his party, so far, who has announced that he will not vote for the New York billionaire, contending that the brash and controversial mogul is “unqualified” for the presidency.

The initiative is being dominated by California electors, a firmly Democratic state, where Christine Pelosi, the daughter of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, is leading the drive.

In their open letter, the electors argue that they need to hear from the intelligence community whether there are any investigations under way –and what their scope may be — regarding the links Trump, his campaign and associates have to Russia and Moscow’s interference in the elections and what those investigations have uncovered so far.

The missive now has been signed by electors from 12 states and the District of Columbia.

–IANS

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