"It's clear the Russians interfered": John McCain, Lindsey Graham join top Republicans in call for Russia hacking investigation

Trump may say he's a "smart person," but his denial about the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC suggests otherwise

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published December 12, 2016 12:33PM (EST)

 (AP/Wong Maye-E)
(AP/Wong Maye-E)

President-elect Donald Trump may have reassured Chris Wallace that he is a "smart person" when it comes to foreign relations, but unless he starts listening to the overwhelming evidence which has supported allegations that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election to harm Hillary Clinton, his actions will speak louder than his words.

Many in his own party disagree with his continued insistence that Russia had nothing to do with it.

“I don’t know what to make of it because it’s clear the Russians interfered,” Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “Whether they intended to interfere to the degree that they were trying to elect a certain candidate, I think that’s a subject of investigation. But facts are stubborn things. They did hack into this campaign.”

McCain also discussed senators are working on a bipartisan basis to put together a plan for further investigating the matter.

“We’ll go to work on it, we’ll go to work immediately because the issue of cyber is not a static issue,” McCain told Wallace. “You can’t make this issue partisan, it’s just — it’s too important. A fundamental of a democracy is a free and fair election.”

Unlike Trump's rumored frontrunner for secretary of state, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, McCain made no bones about his contempt for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

“Vladimir Putin is a thug and a murderer and a killer and a KGB agent,” McCain said. “Let’s call Vladimir Putin for what he is. Does that mean you don’t deal with him or talk to him? Of course you talk to him. But you do it the way that Ronald Reagan did, and that’s from a position of strength.”

McCain's comments were mild compared to those of another Republican senator, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who told CNN last week that “I’m going after Russia in every way you can go after Russia” for trying to meddle in American elections and adding that “I want Putin personally to pay a price.”

Needless to say, this brings all the more scrutiny to the president-elect's insistence that he's a "smart person" despite often missing his daily intelligence briefings and continuing to deny the overwhelming evidence pointing to Russian involvement in the hacking.

"I'm, like, a smart person. I don't have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years," Trump told Wallace. "I don't need that. But I do say, 'If something should change, let us know.'"

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Chris Wallace Donald Trump John Mccain Lindsey Graham Vladimir Putin