Almost every day, Sen. John McCain (R) said Sunday, there's some new revelation about Russia's alleged attempts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.
— ABC News (@ABC) April 2, 2017
But amid all the news flashes, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said he sees moves out of a very old playbook.
Russia's actions, McCain told ABC's Martha Raddatz on “This Week,” are “echoes of the Cold War. They just tell flat-out lies.”
Raddatz and McCain talked in depth about the recent revelations of purported ties between Russia and President Trump's campaign, but McCain (R-Ariz.) said it's a familiar pattern as Russia tries to assert its influence across the world.
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) April 2, 2017
“They're succeeding in continuing their dismemberment of Ukraine, they're succeeding in exerting enormous influence in the Middle East, which they never had before,” McCain said.
“They are succeeding — they have succeeded in interfering with our election, and we know that they continue that in the French elections and other elections. And so far they have paid little or no penalty for all of this misbehavior.”
McCain's remarks come after Michael Flynn resigned as Trump's national security adviser after revelations about his interactions with the Russian ambassador to the United States before Trump took office. Now, Flynn says, he's willing to tell congressional investigators what he knows if they give him immunity from prosecution.
Meanwhile, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said last week that “Russia is interfering in the French election just as it did in the U.S. presidential campaign last year,” according to Agence France-Presse.
“What we might assess was a very covert effort in 2016 in the United States is a very overt effort, as well as covert, in Germany and France,” Burr told reporters, according to AFP, adding that Russia was able to tilt the result toward the candidates it favors.
“So we feel part of our responsibility is to educate the rest of the world about what's going on, because it's now into character assassination of candidates.”
McCain echoed that thought on Sunday, telling Raddatz that the best way to combat Russia's tactics is to convene a select committee to investigate further, then report its findings.
“The fact is that we know for a fact the Russians tried to change the outcome of our election, attacking the very fundamentals of democracy,” McCain said. “We need to know how, we need to know why, and most of all we need to know what to do to prevent this kind of activity, which they continue to carry on in free nations around the world.”
He criticized Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating apparent Russian interference in the election.
Nunes met with secret sources on White House grounds to review intelligence reports showing that Trump campaign officials were swept up in incidental U.S. surveillance, according to the Associated Press. After that meeting, Nunes (R-Calif.) briefed Trump on the new information. The meeting with Trump came before Nunes briefed his own committee about the findings, the AP reported. Democratic leaders in the House and the Senate have called on Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation. He served as an adviser on Trump’s transition team.
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) April 2, 2017
McCain has emerged as one of Trump's top critics, voicing opposition to the president's stances on everything from NAFTA to waterboarding, The Post's Amber Phillips wrote. In February, when the president called the media the “enemy of the American People!” McCain retorted, “That's how dictators get started.”
According to The Post's Amy B Wang, the senator said a free press was central to a functional democracy, even if news organizations' stories challenged those being held accountable.
“I hate the press. I hate you, especially,” he told “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd, who laughed. “But the fact is, we need you. We need a free press. We must have it. It's vital.”