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McConnell declines to create select committee on Russian hacking

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill. (AP/Susan Walsh)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he plans not to create a special committee to investigate whether Russian hacking interfered with the U.S. elections.

Despite calls from Democrats and some Republicans to do so, McConnell said Tuesday that the likely Russian interference "is a serious issue, but it doesn't require a select committee," according to The Associated Press.

Several high-profile Republicans have introduced Senate legislation to look into the hacking, which Democrats argue was aimed at helping GOP nominee Donald Trump win the election over his Democratic counterpart Hillary Clinton.

More from Politico:

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) told POLITICO he would introduce a bill that, if passed, would mandate a new select Senate committee on cybersecurity. The move could intensify pressure on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who so far has resisted appointing a select committee on cybersecurity. He insists the chamber's traditional committees, led by the intelligence panel, should handle the issue.

Gardner's move came a day after GOP Sens. McCain (R-Ariz.) and Graham (R-S.C.), along with incoming Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), called for a special panel in a bipartisan letter to McConnell. It's unclear, however, how extensive GOP support will be for a select committee, since any Republicans who get behind the proposal will be implicitly siding with the Democratic Senate leader instead of their own.

Though Gardner previously has called for a special cybersecurity committee — his pleas to do so predated the spate of recent attention on Russia's interference in the presidential election by more than a year — the plan to introduce legislation mandating it is new. It adds a fresh wrinkle to an issue that's dividing the Senate Republican Conference.

In a Monday night appearance on Kentucky Educational Television, McConnell stood firm against calls for a select committee.

"There's no question that the Russians were messing around in our election," McConnell said, according to AP. "It is a matter of genuine concern, and it needs to be investigated."

However, he said, the investigation should be done within "regular order" by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which he added is "fully capable of handling this."

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