Ten electoral college members are demanding a briefing from U.S. intelligence officials about Donald Trump's ties to Russia before the vote next Monday to formalize the results of the presidential election. In an open letter to National Intelligence Director James Clapper, the electors cite the extensive reports of Trump and his allies' entanglements with Russia, including the recently reported CIA finding that hacking efforts before the election were carried out by Russia in an effort to aid Trump's campaign.

The letter, signed by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's daughter and former congresswoman Christine Pelosi, among others, reads in part:

The Electors require to know from the intelligence community whether there are ongoing investigations into ties between Donald Trump, his campaign or associates, and Russian government interference in the election, the scope of those investigations, how far those investigations may have reached, and who was involved in those investigations. We further require a briefing on all investigative findings, as these matters directly impact the core factors in our deliberations of whether Mr. Trump is fit to serve as President of the United States.

The letter also demands from Trump "conclusive evidence that he and his staff and advisors did not accept Russian interference, or otherwise collaborate during the campaign, and conclusive disavowal and repudiation of such collaboration and interference going forward."

The FBI agrees, according to anonymously sourced reports in national publications, that the Trump camp has Russian connections, and that Russia is responsible for the pre-election hacks, but believes that the intent of the hacks was to undermine faith in U.S. democracy, not necessarily to prop up Trump. No federal agency has produced the direct evidence upon which it has reportedly identified Russia and its motives. However, the Times reports today that unnamed American intelligence officials "believe that Russia also penetrated databases housing Republican National Committee data, but chose to release documents only on the Democrats."

There are a heap of other indications of Trump's campaign having Russian relationships, several of which the electors note in their letter:

  • Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said shortly after the election that the country's government had "contacts" with Trump's "immediate entourage" during the campaign, a claim later walked back by Russia and denied by a Trump spokeswoman.
  • The FBI issued a so-called Glomar response, refusing to confirm or deny that it was investigating Trump's relationship to Russia, even as FBI Director James Comey broke with law enforcement protocol and publicized a new aspect of the investigation into Hillary Clinton 11 days before the election.
  • Yahoo News reported in September that intelligence officials were investigating whether Trump adviser Carter Page, a businessman with extensive dealings in Russia, was negotiating with the Russian government through back channels.
  • Onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was fired after reports on his consulting for the pro-Russia Ukrainian political party of now-ousted President Viktor Yanukovych. Manafort resides in Trump Tower but insists he is “not active” in the president-elect’s transition.
  • In December 2015, Trump national security advisor and conspiracy theorist Michael Flynn gave a paid speech at a gala for the Kremlin propaganda network Russia Today and sat at a table with Russian President Vladmir Putin.
  • Longtime political dirty tricks operative and Trump backer Roger Stone told a Florida TV news station that he had "back-channel" contact with Wikileaks, and predicted on Twitter that John Podesta's "time in the barrel" would come "soon," seven weeks before Wikileaks published Podesta's hacked emails, which are believed to have been obtained by Russia.

The electors' letter is signed by nine Democrats and one Republican from six states and the District of Columbia, of whom, the Republican Chris Suprun of Texas and Democrat Michael Baca of Colorado, are among the 10 electors so far who have announced their intentions to break from their states' votes. All 17 hesitant or openly dissenting electors besides Suprun are Democrats in states that went Democratic, meaning if they cast protest votes, they would be for someone other than Hillary Clinton.

Each of the 17 electors cite the founders' intentions for the electoral college to be a safeguard against a presidential candidate who is unfit for office, including Alexander Hamilton's Federalist Papers instruction for electors to guard against "the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils."

The Democratic electors and Suprun hope to convince their red-state peers to join in the electoral revolt, and activists are offering free legal services to electors in the 29 states where there are punishments for electors who go against the grain of the popular vote. Two Democratic electors, in California and Colorado, have filed lawsuits seeking to overturn regulations prohibiting faithless electors.

Two Democratic congressmen, David Cicilline of Rhode Island and Jim Himes of Connecticut, are also calling for electors to defect and block a Trump presidency.

An electoral college revolt is the longest of long shots. It would take 37 Republican electors flipping to change the outcome of the election—unlikely given that electors are chosen by the party for their loyalty, not their skill as independent evaluators—and the decision would then go to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Still, Politico reports that just the 10 breakaway electors announced so far would represent a defection of record proportions—the greatest previous total was six who defected against James Madison in 1808.

Following the weekend's revelations about the CIA's findings, legislators from both parties are calling for a congressional investigation into the role Russia played in influencing the election. On the Republican side, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain are among those supporting an inquiry, while House Speaker Paul Ryan, a frequent target of Trump, is not.

Trump has blamed Democrats for the CIA's leaked determination that Russia interfered with the election, and his number-two pick for the State Department, Iraq invasion architect John Bolton, suggested that the hacking finding may have been a "false flag operation" engineered by the Obama administration.

If all electors voted in line with their states' formulas, providing all or a proportion of votes to the winner of the states, Trump would win with 306 votes to Hillary Clinton's 232.

Trump gave a rare interview to Fox News on Sunday in which he declared his win "a massive landslide victory...in the electoral college," and his transition team falsely called it "one of the biggest electoral college victories in history." Obama won more electoral votes in each of his two presidential victories, and according to NPR the winner has received more electoral votes than Trump in 37 of the 58 presidential elections.

Trump's victory is unprecedented in one sense: at 2.8 million, his loss margin is the greatest by an electoral college winner in history. By far.