Inquirer Editorial: Russia's role in Trump's election needs a full airing

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President-elect Trump in Hershey Thursday.

The CIA assessment that Russia waged cyber attacks aimed at tilting the election to Donald Trump should alarm every American who believes in a free and fair ballot regardless of one's political party.

Instead of concern, however, President-elect Trump called the CIA's assessment "ridiculous." That's a better description of his willful blindness to an attack on the bedrock of American democracy.

That why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) and other leading Republicans and Democrats are correct to call for hearings to examine the extent of Russia's hacking, consider what immediate response to take, and determine how to prevent it in future elections.

Whatever information can be declassified before the Electoral College meets to make the election results final Monday should be shared with the public. This is a serious breach and should be treated as such, and not sloughed off with a tweet.

To his credit, McConnell went out of his way to also voice support for the U.S. intelligence community, which Trump has criticized. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) took a similar position, calling any foreign intervention in U.S. elections unacceptable, especially from Russia. "Under President Putin, Russia has been an aggressor that consistently undermines American interests," he said.

It is beyond troubling that Trump seems to have missed the Cold War history lesson in which every president had to confront Russian adventurism. He should remember Vice President Nixon squaring off with Nikita Khrushchev; President Kennedy making the Russians back down in the Cuban missile crisis; and Ronald Reagan casting the Soviets as the Evil Empire.

In stark contrast, Trump seems in thrall with Russia, calling Putin a "leader" who will "rebuild the Russian Empire."

Trump tweeted that he has no investments in Russia. But he failed to mention that Russian investors back some of his ventures. The full extent of Trump's business ties to Russia is unknown since he has refused to release his tax returns.

The president-elect has also cast doubt - without evidence - on Russia's well-documented human-rights abuses and assassinations. He also incorrectly said Crimea wanted to be annexed by Russia, while denying that Russia invaded Ukraine.

Trump's selection of ExxonMobil CEO Rex W. Tillerson to be secretary of state does little to ease concerns about ties to Russia. If confirmed, Tillerson faces a potential conflict of interest given that ExxonMobil has several deals with state-owned oil giant Rosneft. The Russians think so much of Tillerson that he was awarded the country's Order of Friendship, one of the highest honors a foreigner can receive.

There is also the question of what else the Russian hackers know. In addition to hacking Democratic Party computers, two Russian security services apparently broke into the computer systems of the Republican National Committee. But no RNC material has been disclosed, which raises the possibility that any damning information could be used as leverage against Trump or the GOP at a later date.

Trump hasn't taken office, but already a cloud hangs over his presidency. Here's his first chance to cooperate with Congress and put the country before politics.

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