John McCain popped over to CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday to speak with Jake Tapper. Their conversation largely revolved around the Russian hacking of the U.S. election with direct involvement by Vladimir Putin. The two men also dug into the situation in Syria, where Russia has aided the Assad government in attacks on civilians, and multiple failed ceasefires have left thousands trapped in Aleppo.
McCain regards both of these issues as a failure of American leadership, which he says has also created an atmosphere where China feels free to brashly seize a U.S. drone. (China has since said they will return the drone, which prompted President-elect Donald Trump — who has done plenty to upset China — to bizarrely tweet, “We should tell China that we don’t want the drone they stole back.- let them keep it!”)
The Arizona senator says all of these examples (although he does not mention Trump’s tweet) are instances where the U.S. has “sat by and watched.” He believes Obama and Congress’ reaction to the hacking doesn’t take the situation seriously enough:
“This is the sign of a possible unraveling of the world order that was established after World War II, which has made one of the most peaceful periods in the history of the world. We’re starting to see the strains and the unraveling of it, and that is because of the absolute failure of American leadership … When America doesn’t lead, a lot of other bad people do.”
Tapper then grilled McCain over how this hacking may have something to do with Trump’s friendly attitude towards Russia, which acted for Republican nominee’s benefit. McCain admitted that he’d never heard Trump criticize Putin or Russia, but he still believes the U.S. needs a better response. And he’s not impressed by Obama’s claim that he told Putin to “cut it out”:
“There’s no doubt they were interfering and no doubt it was a cyber-attack. The question now is how much and what damage and what should the United States of America do? And so far, we’ve been totally paralyzed. I’m sure that when Vladimir Putin was told quote ‘cut it out’ unquote, I’m sure that Vladimir Putin immediately stopped all cyber-activities. The truth is, they are hacking every single day.”
McCain insisted that only a select committee on cyberwarfare can properly investigate the hacking’s effects. Both House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have called for further investigation, but McConnell has ruled out the use of a select committee. He believes the Senate Intelligence Committee can do the job just fine.