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Sen. McCain Calls For Congress To Take Closer Look At Russian Hacking

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Congress will investigate whether Russian hacking influenced the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. This follows reports that the CIA has concluded that Russia intervened in order to help Donald Trump win the presidency. The president-elect has called those claims ridiculous.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell voiced support for the intelligence agencies and backed a bipartisan congressional investigation.

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MITCH MCCONNELL: Obviously any foreign breach of our cyber security measures is disturbing, and I strongly condemn any such efforts.

CORNISH: Senator John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was among those pushing for the investigation. Earlier today, he told NPR's Steve Inskeep why he thinks it's important.

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JOHN MCCAIN: I do not know yet that there was any intention on the part of the Russians to affect our election. I do know, and we all know that they were able to obtain information, particularly amongst the Democrat operatives, which were bound to be not helpful to the Clinton election campaign.

The reason why we need some hearings and we need some investigation is to determine whether there was an intent to affect the free and fair election in the United States upon which our democracy depends.

STEVE INSKEEP, BYLINE: Because you've seen the classified evidence, can you say that there is any doubt that Russia was behind that hack and other activities directed at the United States?

MCCAIN: I have not seen classified information that says that. I have seen plenty of unclassified information, including a New York Times article recently which has not been refuted by the administration or the intelligence services. I don't think there's any doubt about that, that it was Russian. And it could have been others as well.

But whether it was intended or did have an effect on the election is something that we have to have hearings on. And I'm happy to note that Senator Schumer and I and other senators have committed to acting in a bipartisan fashion. This is too important for us to let it break up into a partisan issue.

INSKEEP: We're told that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has now approved the idea of an investigation of this and said Russia is not our friend. Do you and Senator McConnell actually agree on what should be investigated and how it should be investigated?

MCCAIN: Yes, this issue specifically but the whole issue of cyber and the attacks and the capabilities and the betrayal of certain industrial as well as military information. This issue of the campaign and their interference there is only a small part of our whole issue regarding cyber and our capabilities or lack of.

And the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff testified before the Armed Services Committee that we have an advantage over any possible adversary in every aspect of possible conflict except one - guess what? - cyber. And so we've got to really go to work on it. The first thing we need to do is develop a policy about cyber-attacks and a strategy, which this administration has refused to do.

CORNISH: That's Senator John McCain in an interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep - more of that interview tomorrow on MORNING EDITION, including McCain's view on the incoming administration and its relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.