McCain sees Rus­sia hack as threat, at odds with Trump

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump is the busi­ness ti­tan who has spo­ken ap­pre­cia­tively of Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin. Repub­li­can Sen John McCain is the tough-talk­ing na­tional se­cu­rity hawk who warns that Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the US elec­tion threat­ens to “de­stroy democ­racy.”

McCain, chair­man of the Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, on Sun­day joined Democrats in call­ing for a spe­cial se­lect com­mit­tee to in­ves­ti­gate for­eign cy­ber­at­tacks, putting him at odds not only with the in­com­ing GOP pres­i­dent but with Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky, who fa­vors al­low­ing the In­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee to take the lead on the in­quiry.

“We need a se­lect com­mit­tee. We need to get to the bot­tom of this. We need to find out ex­actly what was done and what the im­pli­ca­tions of the at­tacks were, es­pe­cially if they had an ef­fect on our elec­tion,” McCain said. “There’s no doubt they were in­ter­fer­ing and no doubt that it was cy­ber­at­tacks. The ques­tion now is how much and what dam­age and what should the United States of Amer­ica do? And so far, we have been to­tally par­a­lyzed.” Trump calls re­ports of Rus­sian hack­ing “ridicu­lous” and his tran­si­tion team dis­missed the CIA as­sess­ment, say­ing it was the work of the same peo­ple who claimed Iraq had weapons of mass de­struc­tion.

CIA Di­rec­tor John Bren­nan has said the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity is in agree­ment that Rus­sia tried to in­ter­fere in the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, though there’s no ev­i­dence Moscow suc­ceeded in help­ing Trump win. But the charge, along with Trump’s se­lec­tion of a po­ten­tial sec­re­tary of state with busi­ness ties to Rus­sia, has di­vided a GOP riven by a fierce pres­i­den­tial pri­mary and Trump’s re­fusal to sin­gle out Moscow for crit­i­cism.

The frac­tures within the Repub­li­can Party will test long­stand­ing GOP or­tho­doxy that saw Rus­sia as a threat and re­sponded to Putin’s an­nex­a­tion of Crimea with tough sanc­tions. “I think real­ity is go­ing to in­ter­cede at one point or an­other,” McCain said Sun­day on CNN’s “State of the Union,” on the eve of the Elec­toral Col­lege vote ex­pected to for­mal­ize Trump’s vic­tory. Trump, McCain sug­gested, “will very quickly un­der­stand what the Rus­sians are all about.”

Blue bird stays mute

The Twit­ter-lov­ing Trump did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to McCain’s re­marks. But the pres­i­dent-elect’s in­com­ing chief of staff re­fused Sun­day to say that the pres­i­den­t­elect trusts the CIA’s con­clu­sion that Rus­sia hacked the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee in a bid to help the real es­tate mogul de­feat Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton. “They haven’t been to­tally up front and trans­par­ent in their opin­ion as to who, what, where and how this all hap­pened,” Reince Priebus said of the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity on “Fox News Sun­day.”

Repub­li­can Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina said Fri­day that his In­tel­li­gence panel “will fol­low the in­tel­li­gence wher­ever it leads.” McCain at Armed Ser­vices and Sen. Bob Corker, chair­man of For­eign Re­la­tions, also plan in­quiries. McCain joined Repub­li­can Sen Lind­sey Graham and Demo­cratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Jack Reed in press­ing for a se­lect com­mit­tee in a let­ter re­leased Sun­day. An aide to McCon­nell said he would re­view the let­ter. McCain and Trump have clashed through­out the cam­paign. Trump bashed McCain as a “loser” and “not a war hero” be­cause he was shot down and cap­tured dur­ing the Viet­nam War. McCain crit­i­cized Trump for mak­ing dis­parag­ing re­marks about NATO, im­mi­grants, Mus­lims and a “Gold Star” fam­ily that lost a son in Iraq - and for re­fus­ing to say he’d ac­cept the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion re­sults un­less he won. — AP

Se­na­tor John McCain

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