Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election remains a hot political topic Tuesday ahead of President Donald Trump's address to a joint session of Congress.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said that people deserve answers on whether the Kremlin interfered in the election, the "Today" show reported. Ryan said bipartisan intelligence committees have begun an investigation into reports that members of the Trump team communicated with Russian officials during the campaign, though a top House Democrat said Monday the investigation had hardly started.
"We need to get answers. We need to make sure that nothing happened that shouldn't have happened as we go forward," Ryan told the "Today" show's Matt Lauer in an exclusive interview.
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And later Tuesday, Trump's nominee to head up the intelligence community placed cyber threats at the top of his list of the most challenging issues facing the new administration.
Speaking about Russia, former Senator Dan Coats said that their "assertiveness in global affairs is something I look upon with great concern," adding that the US needs to address it "with eyes wide open and a healthy degree of skepticism."
Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Coats laid out the threats he sees, including: the rising cyber threats, the "threat of radical Islamic terrorism," China's "troubling regional activism," Russia's "assertiveness," and the threat from North Korea.
Coats also vowed to pursue an investigation into the possible Russian interference in the US election, promising to hand over raw intelligence material that some lawmakers have requested. Coats said that Russia tried to influence the election, saying that they seemed to "have stepped up their game" in the cyber world. He later acknowledged that he has not yet seen the classified assessment about any attempted hacking or Russian influence.
"This is something that needs to be investigated and addressed," he said.
Former President George W. Bush said "I think we all need answers" about Russia in an interview with Lauer Monday. Neither he nor Ryan advocated for a special prosecutor.
While Ryan called bipartisan investigation — "the most sensitive tool in our toolbox" — necessary, there was a dispute between the top Republican and Democrat on the House intelligence committee Monday.
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said he has heard no evidence so far that anyone in Trump's orbit was in contact with Russians during the presidential campaign, but Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said the committee's investigation was hardly off the ground and it was premature to make any conclusions.