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Chaffetz Defers To Intel Committee On Russian Hacking Probe

Julia Ritchey, KUER
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, talks about Russian hacking allegations during the governor's monthly press conference at KUED on Dec. 15.

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-edpublished 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.

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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