WASHINGTON ― Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, suggested on Tuesday that it’s a fact of life that countries try to interfere in other nations’ elections.
Corker, who has been mentioned as a candidate for secretary of state, said he didn’t have proof that Russia interfered in the presidential election, but believed it had. What was surprising, he said, was not that Russia had taken such action, but how obvious it was.
“In the world of covert activities, countries, large sophisticated countries do things against each other to understand what’s happening within those countries. I think people who have been around for awhile understand that’s what happens,” he said during an interview on MSNBC.
“I think what was unprecedented, Steve, was the fact that they did so so overtly,” he added. “The fact is, there’s nothing Putin would like more than to discredit the electoral process here in our country. Look, we in some ways helped discredit their process back in 2011. What was unprecedented about this was the overt nature. Again, things constantly are occurring where countries are doing things to in some ways destabilize. It happens, we know that.”
“The fact is, there’s nothing Putin would like more than to discredit the electoral process here in our country.”
Intelligence officials believe Russia is responsible for hacking the emails of the Democratic National Committee as part of an effort to influence the election results. Russia has also been linked to hacking emails belonging to John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. Despite this, Corker said the effort to interfere had “backfired” because the election appeared to be rigged for Clinton but Donald Trump won.
If it was Russia’s goal to undermine faith in the electoral process, Trump may have been one of its biggest assets. He repeatedly stoked fears during the election by claiming the election was “rigged” against him.
“It was very unique in that the way it was done was to be visible to the world. That was a new step and I really do think, and I do believe they were involved, I have no proof of that at present and I do believe it was purposefully done to try to embarrass and discredit,” Corker said.