National: Mitch McConnell rejects calls for select panel on Russian meddling | Associated Press

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is rejecting bipartisan calls for a special committee to investigate Russian interference in the U.S. election, which American intelligence says was aimed in part at helping Republican Donald Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. The likely meddling by Russia “is a serious issue, but it doesn’t require a select committee,” said McConnell, R-Ky. The Senate intelligence committee is able to investigate the matter, he added. CIA Director John Brennan has said the intelligence community is in agreement that Russia tried to interfere in the U.S. presidential election, although there’s no evidence Moscow succeeded in helping Trump win. “There’s no question that the Russians were messing around in our election,” McConnell told Kentucky Educational Television on Monday night. “It is a matter of genuine concern and it needs to be investigated.”

National: Electoral College sees record-breaking defections | Politico

The seven so-called “faithless” votes cast by members of the Electoral College on Monday may go down as a noisy footnote to an otherwise chaotic 2016 election. But they also represent a historic breach between electors and the candidates they were expected to vote for. The number of faithless votes has now become the most-ever cast in a single presidential election. The record was set in 1808, when six Democratic-Republican electors opposed James Madison. It’s also the first time since 1832 in which more than a single elector cast a faithless vote. The bulk of the votes came from Washington state, where three Democratic electors bucked Hillary Clinton and cast votes for Colin Powell, a retired general, an African-American — and a Republican. These Democrats were supporting a failed effort meant to block the election of Donald Trump and unite behind an alternative Republican candidate. Powell turned out to be their choice.

National: Voter ID laws contributed to Hillary Clinton’s loss in crucial swing states | Salon

As the votes continue to be counted in states with Voter ID laws, it seems increasingly likely that they played a role — perhaps even a decisive one — in Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump in key swing states. One city that has attracted special scrutiny is Milwaukee, Wisconsin, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times on Saturday. Wisconsin saw its lowest voter turnout in 20 years during the 2016 presidential election, with voter turnout dropping by 41,000 from the previous presidential election in Milwaukee amidst numerous reports that minority citizens were unable to vote. Trump won Wisconsin by 22,748 votes. “I believe it was voter suppression laws from the state government that crushed turnout,” said Milwaukee County Clerk Joe Czarnezki, one of two officials who oversees local elections, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “They tend to hit hardest on people who are poor, who don’t drive and don’t have a license, who are minorities.”voter id, voter suppression

National: The Electoral College Meets Today. Here’s What to Expect. | The New York Times

On Monday, 538 people will meet to determine who will be the next president. These meetings of the Electoral College, convened in every state and the District of Columbia just shy of six weeks after Election Day, have long been little more than a formality. But the victory of President-elect Donald J. Trump, who lost the popular vote but is projected to win the most electoral votes, has thrust the Electoral College into the spotlight once more. The conclusion of American intelligence agencies that Russia tried to intervene in the election to harm Hillary Clinton’s campaign has only intensified the focus in recent days. President Obama on Friday described the Electoral College — originally a compromise between those who wanted Congress to choose the president and those who favored a popular vote — as a “ vestige.” As electors gather in state capitols across the country, here is a rundown of what comes next.

National: Electoral college rebels speak out on a last-ditch hope to stop Trump | The Guardian

On Monday, the 538 members of the electoral college will gather in state capitols across the country to cast their votes for the next president of the United States. With 306 electoral college votes under his belt to Hillary Clinton’s 232, that person will almost certainly be Donald Trump. The iota of doubt that remains comes from an unprecedented eruption of discontent from electors, the body of 538 people chosen by the two main political parties to cast the electoral college vote. Under the peculiarities of the American system, the president is not chosen directly by a “one person-one vote” policy: indeed, Clinton won the popular vote on 8 November by some 2.9m ballots. Instead, it is the indirect electoral college vote, parceled out by a complicated formula and awarded to the candidate who won each state, that is the final arbiter of who occupies the White House. This year, at least eight of the 538 have indicated that they intend to break ranks with modern tradition and vote against their party in a protest directed squarely against Trump. All but one of those rebels are Democratic, which is not coincidental. Many of these Democrats see the electoral college as the last-ditch hope of stopping Trump – the idea being that if their example can encourage their Republican fellow electors to follow suit and rally around a compromise alternative candidate, the Trump presidency can yet be abated.

National: Election officials focus on whether voter ID laws contributed to Hillary Clinton’s defeat | Los Anegeles Times

Starting with John F. Kennedy’s victory over Richard Nixon in 1960, Delia Anderson had voted in 14 straight presidential elections. She had cast her ballot at the same polling place for years, never with a glitch. This year, however, a volunteer driving her to the polls mentioned that she would be asked to show a state-approved photo ID. “Don’t these poll people already know who I am?” replied Anderson, who is 77, black and uses a wheelchair, as she frantically sifted through her purse for anything to prove her identity. It was a lost cause. She had planned to vote for Hillary Clinton. Instead, for the first time in 56 years, she did not cast a ballot. “Lord, have mercy,” she said. “What happened to voting?” Such stories abound in Milwaukee, a Democratic stronghold in a state where Donald Trump won by 22,748 votes, a key victory in his path to the presidency. Now, voting rights advocates, elections officials and political experts have zeroed in on the city as a case study of whether controversial new rules requiring ID for voting — the kind used in several states in November for the first time in a presidential election — blocked vast numbers of largely young and racial minority Democrats from casting ballots and contributed to Clinton’s defeat.

National: All This Talk of Voter Fraud? Across U.S., Officials Found Next to None | The New York Times

After all the allegations of rampant voter fraud and claims that millions had voted illegally, the people who supervised the general election last month in states around the nation have been adding up how many credible reports of fraud they actually received. The overwhelming consensus: next to none. In an election in which more than 137.7 million Americans cast ballots, election and law enforcement officials in 26 states and the District of Columbia — Democratic-leaning, Republican-leaning and in-between — said that so far they knew of no credible allegations of fraudulent voting. Officials in another eight states said they knew of only one allegation. A few states reported somewhat larger numbers of fraud claims that were under review. Tennessee counted 40 credible allegations out of some 4.3 million primary and general election votes. In Georgia, where more than 4.1 million ballots were cast, officials said they had opened 25 inquiries into “suspicious voting or election-related activity.” But inquiries to all 50 states (every one but Kansas responded) found no states that reported indications of widespread fraud. And while additional allegations could surface as states wind up postelection reviews, their conclusions are unlikely to change significantly.

National: McCain calls for committee to investigate Russia hacking: ‘There’s no doubt’ of interference | The Washington Post

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Sunday again decried Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential race and called for a select Senate committee to investigate the country’s cyber activities during the election. On CNN’s “State of the Union,” McCain told host Jake Tapper that there was “no doubt” Russia interfered with the election. “We need to get to the bottom of this,” he said. “There’s no doubt they were interfering. There’s no doubt. The question is now, how much and what damage? And what should the United States of America do?” Earlier this month, the CIA concluded in a secret assessment that Russia meddled in the election to help Donald Trump win the presidency. FBI Director James B. Comey and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. agreed with the CIA’s assessment. Tapper asked whether McCain was concerned that Trump has not denounced Russia’s alleged interference — while maintaining a “friendly posture” toward Russian President Vladimir Putin.

National: Senators Push to Broaden Inquiry on Election Hacking | The New York Times

Pressure mounted on Sunday for a broader congressional investigation of Russian cyberattacks aimed at influencing the American election, even as a top aide to President-elect Donald J. Trump said there was no conclusive evidence of foreign interference. The effort was being led by a bipartisan group of senators, including John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and Chuck Schumer of New York, the Senate Democratic leader, who called on Sunday for the creation of a Senate select committee on cyberactivity to take the investigative lead on Capitol Hill. “Recent reports of Russian interference in our election should alarm every American,” the senators wrote on Sunday in a letter to Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, who has said a select committee is not necessary. “Cybersecurity is the ultimate cross-jurisdictional challenge, and we must take a comprehensive approach to meet this challenge effectively.” The developments served to deepen the fissures between high-ranking lawmakers of both parties who see American intelligence reports implicating Russia as the basis for additional inquiries and Mr. Trump, who continues to reject the conclusions of those reports.

National: Why Trump’s assertion that hackers can’t be caught after an attack is wrong | Business Insider

Even though hackers responsible for the cyberattack on the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign weren’t caught in the act, it doesn’t mean they can’t be identified as President-elect Donald Trump has asserted. Michael Borohovski, a cybersecurity expert with experience working with the intelligence community and Chief Technology Officer of Tinfoil Security, says investigators have methods of uncovering the identity of attackers long after they’re gone. “It’s actually significantly harder to catch somebody in the act than it is to catch somebody after the fact,” Borohovski told Business Insider. “Unfortunately it’s not like in the movies where as soon as someone is attacking, big red alarms go off.” In a Fox News interview last weekend, Trump cast doubt on the CIA’s recent findings that Russia was involved in cyberattacks against the Democratic Party to help him win the election, calling it “ridiculous” and an excuse for the opposing party’s loss.

National: How a Putin Fan Overseas Pushed Pro-Trump Propaganda to Americans | The New York Times

The Patriot News Agency website popped up in July, soon after it became clear that Donald J. Trump would win the Republican presidential nomination, bearing a logo of a red, white and blue eagle and the motto “Built by patriots, for patriots.” Tucked away on a corner of the site, next to links for Twitter and YouTube, is a link to another social media platform that most Americans have never heard of: VKontakte, the Russian equivalent of Facebook. It is a clue that Patriot News, like many sites that appeared out of nowhere and pumped out pro-Trump hoaxes tying his opponent Hillary Clinton to Satanism, pedophilia and other conspiracies, is actually run by foreigners based overseas. But while most of those others seem be the work of young, apolitical opportunists cashing in on a conservative appetite for viral nonsense, operators of Patriot News had an explicitly partisan motivation: getting Mr. Trump elected. Patriot News — whose postings were viewed and shared tens of thousands of times in the United States — is among a constellation of websites run out of the United Kingdom that are linked to James Dowson, a far-right political activist who advocated Britain’s exit from the European Union and is a fan of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. A vocal proponent of Christian nationalist, anti-immigrant movements in Europe, Mr. Dowson, 52, has spoken at a conference of far-right leaders in Russia and makes no secret of his hope that Mr. Trump will usher in an era of rapprochement with Mr. Putin.

National: FBI in agreement with CIA that Russia aimed to help Trump win White House | The Washington Post

FBI Director James B. Comey and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. are in agreement with a CIA assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election in part to help Donald Trump win the White House, officials disclosed Friday, as President Obama issued a public warning to Moscow that it could face retaliation. New revelations about Comey’s position could put to rest suggestions by some lawmakers that the CIA and the FBI weren’t on the same page on Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s intentions. Russia has denied being behind the cyber-intrusions, which targeted the Democratic National Committee and the private emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. Trump, in turn, has repeatedly said he doubts the veracity of U.S. intelligence blaming Moscow for the hacks. “I think it’s ridiculous,” Trump said in an interview with “Fox News Sunday,” his first Sunday news-show appearance since the Nov. 8 election. “I think it’s just another excuse. I don’t believe it. . . . No, I don’t believe it at all.” At a “thank you” event Thursday night with some of her top campaign donors and fundraisers, Clinton said she believed Russian-backed hackers went after her campaign because of a personal grudge that Putin had against her. Putin had blamed Clinton for fomenting mass protests in Russia after disputed 2011 parliamentary elections that challenged his rule. Putin said Clinton, then secretary of state, had “sent a signal” to protesters by labeling the elections “neither free nor fair.”

National: U.S. Election Assistance Commission breached by hackers after November vote | Reuters

The U.S. agency charged with ensuring that voting machines meet security standards was itself penetrated by a hacker after the November elections, according to a security firm working with law enforcement on the matter. The security firm, Recorded Future, was monitoring underground electronic markets where hackers buy and sell wares and discovered someone offering log-on credentials for access to computers at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, company executives said. Posing as a potential buyer, the researchers engaged in a conversation with the hacker, said Levi Gundert, vice president of intelligence at the company, and Andrei Barysevich, director of advanced collection. Eventually they discovered that the Russian-speaking hacker had obtained the credentials of more than 100 people at the election commission after exploiting a common database vulnerability, the researchers said.

National: 40 Electoral College members demand briefing on Russian interference | The Hill

Forty members of the Electoral College on Tuesday signed a letter demanding an intelligence briefing on Russian interference in the election ahead of their Dec. 19 vote. Ten electors originally signed the letter when it was published Monday, and 30 more have since added their names. The open letter — led by Christine Pelosi, the daughter of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) — urged Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to give a detailed briefing on President-elect Donald Trump’s ties to Russia. “We further require a briefing on all investigative findings, as these matters directly impact the core factors in our deliberations of whether Mr. Trump is fit to serve as President of the United States,” the letter read.

National: Stymied vote recount exposed flaws in ballot integrity, Jill Stein says | Los Angeles Times

Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for president, conceded Tuesday that her three-state vote recount drive was “stopped in its tracks,” but said she’d illuminated the need to shore up the security of balloting nationwide. “While the count may have stopped, the movement for a voting system we can trust has been enormously energized,” Stein told reporters on a conference call. Stein raised more than $7 million to seek recounts of the presidential vote in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. President-elect Donald Trump narrowly won those states. Courts have blocked recounts in Michigan and Pennsylvania. The Wisconsin recount that was completed Monday wound up widening Trump’s margin of victory there to 22,748 votes out of the 2,976,150 cast.

National: Obama promises retaliation against Russia over hacking during US election | The Guardian

Barack Obama has warned that the US will retaliate for Russian cyberattacks during the presidential election. According to extracts of an interview due to air on National Public Radio on Friday morning, the US president said he was waiting for a final report he has ordered into a range of Russian hacking attacks, but promised there would be a response. “I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections … we need to take action,” Obama said. “And we will – at a time and place of our own choosing. Some of it may be explicit and publicised; some of it may not be.” The CIA has judged that the Russian cyber attacks, including the hacking of emails from the Democratic National Committee, were intended to influence the election in Donald Trump’s favour. The FBI agrees that there was Russian hacking but has not as yet concluded it was intended to favour the Republican contender. Senators from both parties have called for a congressional enquiry, while Trump himself has rejected the reports and his office has derided the CIA.

National: Beleaguered Federal Election Commission enters 2017 as marginalized as ever | Public Radio International

Donald Trump panned “pay-to-play” politics, blasted “rigged” elections and vowed to “drain the swamp” that is Washington, D.C. But Trump has so far forsaken the very government agency Congress created after Watergate to work as the nation’s campaign season Roto-Rooter. The Federal Election Commission’s six commissioners, including the agency’s three Republicans, say neither Trump nor his transition team has contacted them. Trump, meanwhile, appointed Don McGahn, a former FEC chairman and preeminent enemy of campaign finance regulations, as his top White House lawyer. Representatives for the Trump transition declined to answer questions from the Center for Public Integrity about the FEC. The developments together are evidence that the FEC — once a reasonably robust and bipartisan judge of political misdeeds — heads into 2017 even more marginalized than ever before by the very politicians it’s supposed to advise and police.

National: 1.7 million people in 33 states and D.C. cast a ballot without voting in the presidential race | The Washington Post

In every election, there are people who go to the polls to cast a ballot but who don’t vote in every race. Usually, those “undervotes,” as they’re called, happen down-ballot, resulting in fewer votes for, say, county commissioner than, say, president of the United States. But in every election there are also people who skip the presidential ballot for whatever reason. It happens. With 2016 pitting two historically unpopular candidates against one another, we were curious about the extent to which undervoting occurred in the marquee contest this year. We found some evidence that it was occurring a few weeks ago, but set out to tally the undervote more deliberately, pulling in data from every state to figure out how many people skipped the top of the ticket. We were able to compile data from 33 states and D.C. In those states in 2012, there were 754,000 undervotes at the top of the ticket — about 0.9 percent of all ballots cast. In 2016? At least 1.75 million people skipped the presidential contest, 2 percent of the total. In other words, in these states, one out of every 50 people declined to vote in the presidential contest. That undervote varies by state. In only three states was the undervote percentage down. In states where it was up, it was up by an average of 2.5 times as much as in 2012.

National: Loath to Meddle in Election, Obama Delayed Blaming Russia for D.N.C. Hack | The New York Times

The Obama administration spent months deliberating whether to blame Russia for a cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee, with action delayed in part because President Obama did not want to be blamed for politicizing intelligence, the White House said on Wednesday. Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said that “it would’ve been inappropriate for White House figures — including the president of the United States — to be rushing the intelligence community to expedite their analysis of the situation.” In particular, he described White House concerns that any statement by Mr. Obama would be viewed as using intelligence to meddle in the election on behalf of the president’s preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton. An F.B.I. agent initially tried in September 2015 to alert officials from the Democratic National Committee that it was the target of a cyberattack by a group of hackers with links to Russian intelligence. But the administration waited until October 2016, more than a year later and after months of damaging leaks, to confirm that intelligence agencies believed the hacks were the product of a Russian intelligence operation.

National: Vladimir Putin ‘personally involved’ in US hack, report claims | The Guardian

US intelligence officials believe that Vladimir Putin was personally involved in hacking during the American election campaign as part of a vendetta against Hillary Clinton, NBC News has claimed. The Russian president personally instructed how material hacked from US Democrats was leaked and otherwise used, the US television network said, quoting two senior officials with access to this information. The officials said they have a “high level of confidence” in this new assessment, NBC reported. Last weekend the Washington Post reported a CIA evaluation that Russia had hacked the emails of US persons and institutions as a way to sway the election in favor of Republican Donald Trump, who defeated Clinton on 8 November.

National: Lindsey Graham Says Moscow Hacked His Presidential Campaign Email Account | International Business Times

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said he too was a victim of Russian hackers claiming they compromised his presidential campaign email account in June this year. The Republican lawmaker called for a tougher stance against Moscow. During the 2016 election race, the email account of former presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign Chairman John Podesta was hacked and the emails were published on the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. The website also leaked thousands of emails allegedly acquired from Russian hackers who compromised several Democratic National Committee (DNC) accounts. In an interview Wednesday with CNN, Graham said: “I do believe the Russians hacked into the DNC. I do believe they hacked into Podesta’s email account. They hacked into my campaign account. I do believe that all the information released publicly hurt Clinton and didn’t hurt Trump. I don’t think the outcome of the election is in doubt. What we should do is not turn on each other but work as one people to push back on Russia.”

National: McMullin: GOP knew about, ignored Russian meddling in election | The Hill

Former independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin on Wednesday charged that congressional Republicans were aware of Russian efforts to meddle in the U.S. presidential election but didn’t do anything about it. “Look, the truth is it’s been very obvious for leaders in Washington on the Republican side that the Russians have been undermining our democracy, or did undermine our democracy,” McMullin said at an event hosted by Politio. “I know because I know for a fact that they know this. It was a topic of discussion during the election and they chose not to stand up.” A secret CIA assessment first reported by The Washington Post concluded Russia intervened in the presidential election to help Donald Trump win the presidency. Trump and his aides have since blasted the report, with the president-elect calling it “ridiculous” that Russia would work to help him. McMullin said Republicans are now “sticking their heads in the sand on this issue as they did during the campaign.” “I will tell you, this is not a new issue,” he said.

National: Registration deadlines left thousands of votes uncounted this year | Washington Post

Last week, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) conceded to Democratic challenger Roy Cooper, who had held a small but growing lead over McCrory since Election Day. That lead stands at less than half the number of votes that were tossed out because the voter was unregistered. It’s unlikely that these discarded votes would have changed the election’s outcome — they were disproportionately cast by African Americans and Democrats and would likely have furthered Cooper’s lead. But given the sheer volume of disenfranchised voters, it’s easy to imagine a scenario in which they could flip an election result. In North Carolina and the 37 other states that don’t allow voters to register on Election Day, hundreds of thousands of people saw their votes tossed out because of their registration status. (In 2012, there were a quarter of a million rejected ballots nationwide.)

National: Democratic House Candidates Were Also Targets of Russian Hacking | The New York Times

South Florida has long been a laboratory for some of the nation’s roughest politics, with techniques like phantom candidates created by political rivals to siphon off votes from their opponents, or so-called boleteras hired to illegally fill out stacks of absentee ballots on behalf of elderly or disabled voters. But there was never anything quite like the 2016 election campaign, when a handful of Democratic House candidates became targets of a Russian influence operation that made thousands of pages of documents stolen by hackers from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington available to Florida reporters and bloggers. “It was like I was standing out there naked,” said Annette Taddeo, a Democrat who lost her primary race after secret campaign documents were made public. “I just can’t describe it any other way. Our entire internal strategy plan was made public, and suddenly all this material was out there and could be used against me.” The impact of the information released by the hackers on candidates like Ms. Taddeo in Florida and others in nearly a dozen House races around the country was largely lost in the focus on the hacking attacks against the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. But this untold story underscores the effect the Russian operation had on the American electoral system.

National: Stein campaign details recount spending | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

With recount efforts wrapping up, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein ended her fundraising Tuesday to review ballot tallies in Wisconsin and two other states, saying she will donate any leftover cash to voting rights groups. In the end, Wisconsin’s recount turned up changes to the ballot count of the top four finishers of just six-hundredths of 1%. Meanwhile, Stein’s bid for statewide recounts has been blocked in Pennsylvania and Michigan. Stein’s campaign said it raised $7.3 million for its recount efforts and has up to $7.4 million in outstanding costs, but expects those estimated expenses to decrease as the actual costs are tallied. In raising the money, Stein also collected the names of more than 161,000 donors and 10,000 volunteers that she can tap in the future.

National: RNC keeps close tabs on Electoral College vote | Politico

The Republican National Committee is overseeing an expansive whip operation designed to lock down Donald Trump’s Electoral College majority and ensure that the 306 Republican electors cast their votes for the president-elect. Two RNC sources familiar with the effort said the committee — with the assistance of state Republican parties and the Trump campaign — have been in touch with most of the GOP electors multiple times, and has concluded that only one is a risk to cast a vote against Trump on Dec. 19, when the Electoral College meets. The RNC’s elector head count, the sources emphasized, is standard practice in presidential election years. But this year it also serves as an early-warning system for potentially wayward GOP electors amid an intense push by Democratic electors to convince 37 of their Republican counterparts to jump ship. The Democrats are hoping that dozens of GOP electors — many of whom were picked at local conventions and party meetings dominated by Trump’s opponents — are already primed to resist Trump.

National: Electors demand intelligence briefing before Electoral College vote | Politico

In its first show of public support for efforts questioning the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s victory, Hillary Clinton’s campaign said it is supporting a request by members of the Electoral College for an intelligence briefing on foreign intervention in the presidential election. “The bipartisan electors’ letter raises very grave issues involving our national security,” Clinton’s former campaign chairman John Podesta said in a statement on Monday. “Electors have a solemn responsibility under the Constitution and we support their efforts to have their questions addressed. Each day in October, our campaign decried the interference of Russia in our campaign and its evident goal of hurting our campaign to aid Donald Trump,” he said. “Despite our protestations, this matter did not receive the attention it deserved by the media in the campaign. 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.”

National: Senate and House Leaders Call for Inquiry of Russian Hacking in Election | The New York Times

The top two Republicans in Congress said on Monday that they supported investigations into possible Russian cyberattacks to influence the American election, setting up a potential confrontation with President-elect Donald J. Trump in his first days in office. “Any foreign breach of our cybersecurity measures is disturbing, and I strongly condemn any such efforts,” said Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, adding, “The Russians are not our friends.” Mr. McConnell’s support for investigating American intelligence findings that Moscow intervened in the election on Mr. Trump’s behalf could presage friction between the Republicans who control Congress, and who have long taken a hard line against Russia, and the president-elect, who has mocked the findings. Mr. McConnell also went out of his way to address Mr. Trump’s claim that the C.I.A. could not be trusted because of flawed intelligence before the Iraq war. “Let me say that I have the highest confidence in the intelligence community,” Mr. McConnell said, “and especially the Central Intelligence Agency. The C.I.A. is filled with selfless patriots, many of whom anonymously risk their lives for the American people.”

National: Green Party U.S. election recount bid comes to a close | Reuters

The recount effort by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein in three U.S. states came to an end on Monday, after weeks of legal wrangling yielded only one electoral review in Wisconsin that favored Republican winner Donald Trump. A federal judge in Pennsylvania rejected Stein’s request for a recount and an examination of that state’s voting machines for evidence of hacking in the Nov. 8 election won by Trump. Meanwhile, Wisconsin election officials said on Monday they had completed their 10-day recount after finding that Trump’s margin of victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton had increased by 131 votes, bringing Trump’s total lead to 22,748. “The final Wisconsin vote is in and guess what – we just picked up an additional 131 votes. The Dems and Green Party can now rest. Scam!” Trump said on Twitter. Stein, who finished fourth, challenged the results in those two states as well as Michigan, where the state’s top court on Friday denied Stein’s last-ditch appeal to keep a recount going. All of those traditionally Democratic strongholds supported Trump over Clinton. Even if all three recounts had taken place, they were unlikely to change the outcome.

National: CIA concludes Russia interfered to help Trump win election, say reports | The Guardian

US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in last month’s presidential election to boost Donald Trump’s bid for the White House, according to reports. A secret CIA assessment found that Russian operatives covertly interfered in the election campaign in an attempt to ensure the Republican candidate’s victory, the Washington Post reported, citing officials briefed on the matter. A separate report in the New York Times said intelligence officials had a “high confidence” that Russia was involved in hacking related to the election. The claims immediately drew a stinging rebuke from the president-elect’s transition team, which said in a statement: “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.” According to the Post’s report, officials briefed on the matter were told that intelligence agencies had found that individuals linked to the Russian government had provided WikiLeaks with thousands of confidential emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and others.