Sen. John McCain Became A Big Thorn In Trump’s Side This Weekend

Sen. John McCain

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) spent the weekend pushing for a congressional inquiry into Russian election hacks and setting up opposition to Donald Trump’s choice of a Russia-friendly Secretary of State.

Reality show star-turned-president elect Trump has tried to dismiss such concerns. After the Washington Post reported Friday night on the existence of a classified CIA finding that high-level Russian officials acted to help elect him, Trump called the story “ridiculous.”

Appearing on CBS Face the Nation today, McCain expressed polite confusion with Trump’s response.

“I don’t know what to make of it,” he told host John Dickerson. “Because it’s clear the Russians interfered. Now 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.”

That’s exactly what the CIA report says, but McCain’s willingness to “investigate” the question puts him in opposition to Senate Majority Leader MitchMcConnell, who moved to quash the CIA report just weeks before the election.

Earlier this morning, McCain joined fellow Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-NC), Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Jack Reed (D-RI) to call on Congress to investigate the matter.

Trump has also set off alarm bells by appointing Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who has close ties to Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin, to be his Secreatary of State. Making an appearance on Fox News, McCain indicated Saturday that he has doubts about the choice.

I don’t know what Mr. Tillerson’s relationship with Vladimir Putin was, but I’ll tell you it is a matter of concern to me. You want to give the president of the United States the benefit of the doubt because the people have spoken. But Vladimir Putin is a thug, a bully and a murderer, and anybody else who describes him as anything else is lying.

On Friday, former McCain speechwriter Mark Salter also tweeted a prediction that Trump will have trouble getting Tillerson’s appointment through the Senate.

Tillerson closed a $500 billion oil and gas deal with Putin in 2011 only to see it canceled by sanctions laid against Russia for their actions in Ukraine. His appointment is widely regarded as a signal that Trump will form close, cozy relations with Putin’s Russia and drop those sanctions.

If Senate Democrats unify against Tillerson, only three Republicans would be needed to block his nomination.

Featured image: Gage Skidmore Flickr under Creative Commons license

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