As head of the powerful House Oversight Committee, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, says he can investigate anything at any time.
But he’s deferring to another body, the U.S. House Select Intelligence Committee, to follow up on CIA reports that Russians conducted cyber-attacks aimed at influencing the U.S. election for Donald Trump.
“I’ve been peppered with a lot of questions about what is the Oversight Committee going to do on this? Really the lead on this should be the intel committee,” he says. “One thing that I generally don’t dive into is when there’s sources and methods.”
Chaffetz' comments came during KUED’s monthly press conference. Normally Gov. Gary Herbert is the only lawmaker present, but this time Chaffetz and Rep. Rob Bishop joined him to address a possible national monument designation of Bears Ears.
Obama’s director of national intelligence publicly blamed Russia for the cyber-attacks on the Democratic National Committee in early October, but Obama did not order a full review on alleged Russian interference until after the election.
Echoing President-elect Trump, Chaffetz criticized the Obama administration’s timing and response to the attacks.
“Russian hacking [and] Russian involvement in our economy in general is a huge issue,” says Chaffetz. “Mitt Romney campaigned on the issue. ...Mitt Romney made a big point, and Barack Obama just laughed at him. Pretty hard to say that Republicans have been remiss on worrying about Russia.”
Utah’s 2nd District Representative, Chris Stewart, is a member of the intel committee. In an op-ed published in the Washington Examiner on Thursday, Stewart disputed leaked intelligence that Russian interference was designed to help one candidate over the other. He says the Kremlin’s goal was mostly “to create uncertainty and doubt” in U.S. elections.