McCain: 'No Evidence That the Election Would Have Been Different'

By Susan Jones | December 19, 2016 | 6:02am EST
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, is calling for a select congressional committee to investigate the extent of Russian hacking and its possible effect on the U.S. electoral process. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

( - Amid all the talk of Russian hacking, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) says there's no reason to think that Russian activity changed the outcome of the election.

"I have seen no evidence that the voting machines were tampered with...I have seen no evidence that the election would have been different," McCain told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday. "But that doesn't change the fact that the Russians and others, Chinese to a lesser degree, have been able to interfere with our electoral process."

McCain, a longstanding critic of Russia and President Vladimir Putin, is calling for a select congressional committee to "get to the bottom" of the Russian hacking. Some Trump opponents believe the leak of Democrat emails before the election contributed to Hillary Clinton's defeat. The WikiLeaks email dump became more of an issue after the election than they ever were before it.

"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 cyber-attacks. 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."

McCain was sharply critical of the Obama administration, especially President Obama's admonition to Russia to "cut it out." (Obama told a news conference on Friday that when he saw Putin in China in early September, he spoke to him directly about interfering in the U.S. election, warning him that theree would be "some serious consequences" if Putin did not "cut it out.")

"I'm sure that when -- when Vladimir Putin was told, 'Cut it out,' unquote, I'm sure that Vladimir Putin immediately stopped all cyber-activity," McCain said sarcastically. "The fact is, they are hacking every single day in other areas of our military and on all kinds of different aspects of American life that they are able to penetrate. And we have no strategy, nor do we have any policy towards that. And it's very disturbing."

McCain said many of the world's problems, and not just the hacking, stem from a failure of American leadership.

"[W]hen we see the seizure of these ships, when we see the cyber-attacks, when we see the dismemberment of Syria, when we see the tragedies that are taking place there, which are heartbreaking, actually heartbreaking, while we sat by and watched all this happen -- this is a sign of a possible unraveling of the world order that was established after World War II, which was made one of the most peaceful periods in the history of the world.

"We're starting to see that, the strains and the unraveling of it, and that's because of an absolute failure of American leadership. When America doesn't lead, a lot of other bad people do. And that's why we're seeing this slaughter in Aleppo that breaks your heart."

McCain said the United States is "still the greatest nation in the world," but he said the U.S. has "a lot of work to do to restore our position in this world and defend this nation."

He said Russia is "ahead of us" when it comes to cyber-warfare, but that is "perhaps the only area where our adversaries have an advantage over us."

"And we need a select committee on cyber. And we need to do a lot of other things, like sail the international waters without fear of being impeded by Chinese activities."

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