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Latino Lawmakers: Congress Must Investigate Russia's Role in Election

Rep. Joaquín Castro, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, joined others in calling for an investigation of Russia's role in the elections.
Image: Luis Gutierrez, Linda Sanchez, Loretta Sanchez, Joaquin Castro, Xavier Becerra, Ben Ray Lujan, Tony Cardenas,  Juan C. Vargas
Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, center, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Feb. 13, 2015, during a Congressional Hispanic Caucus news conference. J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Rep. Joaquín Castro, a Democratic member of the House Intelligence committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee, insisted that Congress must investigate Russian involvement in U.S. elections.

"Reports of Russian interference in our nation's election to influence the outcome for one candidate are extremely distressing. Congress must investigate this breach and determine the full extent of Russian involvement. This kind of electoral interference undermines American democracy," Castro said in a statement released on Monday.

Castro of Texas is one of several Latino lawmakers who serve on committees or in leadership and so could play a role in a congressional probe of whether Russia hacked emails of the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee. Though both were hacked, only emails of the DNC were leaked.

RELATED: McConnell Backs Senate Investigations of Russian Hacking

The CIA has concluded in a report that Russia was trying to help then candidate Donald Trump win the U.S. presidential election, according to a report by the Washington Post.

That news has ratcheted up concerns about potential Russian hacking of the parties' emails and those of the Clinton campaign, first revealed during the election campaign. This set off calls for investigation from high-profile congressional members.

Castro said not getting to the bottom of the hacking and leaks and taking action creates an "open invitation for other countries to interfere with other elections."

Rep. Linda Sanchez, chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and a California Democrat, said Congress should immediately shut down the Benghazi Committee on which she serves and use the money put to that to a bipartisan investigation of the Russian hacking.

The Benghazi Committee was formed by Republicans to investigate the 2012 terrorist attack on the embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Many Democrats saw it as a partisan probe intended to quash Hillary Clinton's presidential ambitions. It was formed in 2014.

"The American people deserve answers and those responsible for any tampering with our elections should be brought to justice," said Sanchez, who will serve as vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus next year.

However President-elect Donald Trump has called the allegations ridiculous. Castro criticized Trump's response. "These hacks are of serious consequence. The president-elect's flippancy and dismissal of our nation's intelligence community is shameful," Castro stated.

"Congress must thoroughly investigate this cyber intrusion to prevent further attacks," he said.

Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also issued a statement Monday urging an investigation. He called on elected leaders to accept the expertise of the intelligence community and "act accordingly to respond to Russia's nefarious and calculated involvement in our elections."

"Encouraging, justifying or tacitly accepting hacking and government surveillance reeks of an authoritarianism that has no place in our democratic society – and threatens each and every one of us," Menendez stated.

Related: McConnell Backs Senate Investigations of Russian Hacking

During the campaign Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., warned fellow Republicans during the campaign about trying to capitalize on the hacked emails that were released through Wikileaks, saying then "these leaks are an effort by a foreign government to interfere with our electoral process and I will not indulge it."

Rubio serves on the Senate Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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