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John McCain says US has no strategy to deal with Russian cyber warfare

In audio obtained by the Guardian, McCain says it is the one aspect of our confrontation where adversaries are ahead

John McCain warned that the Trump administration is unprepared to deal with Russian attempts to influence elections in France and European countries in the coming months.

In audio obtained by the Guardian of the 2008 presidential nominee speaking at the congressional retreat in Philadelphia, the Arizona senator said we dont have a policy and we dont have a strategy for Russian cyber warfare. He said it is the one aspect of our confrontation where I believe our adversaries are ahead of us, adding it is a hell of a lot of easier to offense in cyber than defense.

France is holding its first round of presidential elections in April and far right nationalist Marine Le Pen is leading in opinion polls. Le Pens party, the National Front, is currently facing scrutiny over its ties to Russian banks and she has insisted that Russias occupation of Crimea was legitimate. The 2014 invasion of Crimea drew international condemnation and led to international sanctions against Russia.

McCain, who stated matter of factly that we do know the Russians were trying to influence the outcome of our election, also warned that he didnt know what Trumps policy was towards Russia. The hawkish McCain described Putin as a KGB criminal and suggested Ronald Reagans approach to Russia of peace through strength was the appropriate template today.

McCain broadly took a pessimistic view of foreign affairs in 2017. I could make a coherent, cogent argument that the world is more dangerous than any time in the last 70 years, said MCain, who chairs the Senate armed services committee. There are pressures on the new world order that was established in 1947 and 1948, the likes of which we have never seen.

He told attendees he believed President Trump will probably be tested by one or more of these forces around the world, whether it be North Koreans, Iranians, the Chinese or the Russians and expressed his hope that all of his colleagues will support a response which is proportionate and will also tell Vladimir Putin, the ayatollahs and the Chinese that there is a new team in town.

McCain though was full of praise for many of Trumps cabinet picks. He told colleagues the national security team that president Trump has assembled is as strong or better than any Ive ever seen. He had particular praise for newly confirmed secretary of defense James Mattis. Im not sure if one person can have a profound effect but if anyone can have a profound effect it is General Mattis, said McCain.

He also seemed to welcome Mike Flynn, Trumps controversial selection for national security adviser. What a nice change from Susan Rice to General Flynn, McCain said of the transition from Obamas adviser to Trumps selection.

McCain is notably not close to Trump. The president mocked the Arizona senator in 2015 for being a prisoner of war, saying hes a war hero because he was captured? I like people who werent captured, and McCain only backed Trump after the real estate developer became the GOP nominee.

However, he has been enthusiastic about many of Trumps cabinet choices in foreign policy and offered the White House crucial support in advancing the nomination of state department nominee Rex Tillerson.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/27/john-mccain-says-us-has-no-strategy-to-deal-with-russian-cyber-warfare

Ryan trashes Putin but won’t call out Trump for praising him

Washington (CNN)House Speaker Paul Ryan, pressed about Donald Trump’s praise of the strongman Russian leader, trashed Vladimir Putin, but wouldn’t criticize the GOP presidential nominee.

“Vladimir Putin is an aggressor that does not share our interests,” Ryan told reporters at his weekly news conference on Capitol Hill, before listing what he viewed as the Russian leaders’ transgressions.
    “Vladimir Putin is violating the sovereignty of neighboring countries. It certainly appears that he is conducting state-sponsored cyber-attacks on what appears to be our political system. That is not acting in our interest. And that is an adversarial stance and he is acting like an adversary,” he said.
    But when CNN pressed the speaker if he had concerns about Trump’s high regard for Putin, Ryan dodged.
    “I made my points about Putin clear right there. I’ll just leave it at that,” he said.
    Trump’s remarks about Putin were among a series of controversial statements the real estate businessman made at a national security forum hosted Wednesday by NBC News. He noted Putin’s high approval rating was at 82% and told moderator Matt Lauer he was a better leader than President Barack Obama.
    “I mean, the man has very strong control over a country. And that’s a very different system and I don’t happen to like the system. But certainly in that system he’s been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader,” he said.
    Ryan has had a sometimes-rocky relationship with Trump. He initially held back an endorsement when he became the nominee in May and has criticized the businessman periodically when he’s voiced views that the speaker believes are detrimental to the party.
    But when asked again about the latest things Trump has said about military leaders and the other issues if he is reconsidering his support now, the speaker bristled.
    “You think I’m going to stand up here and be election pundit? I’ve got other things to do in this job,” Ryan said.
    Trump is the GOP nominee “because he won our nomination fair and square,” Ryan said, repeating his past remarks on Trump. “I’m not going to sit up here and do the tit-for-tat on what Donald said last night or the night before and Hillary vs. Donald.”
    Ryan also seemed to give some cover to Trump when he was asked if the presidential candidate should present a detailed proposal to battle the terror group ISIS.
    “We have a plan to defeat ISIS,” referring to a proposal that is part of Ryan’s “Better Way” policy agenda. He added about his own 67 point plan, “look at what we are offering in conjunction with our nominee.”

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/08/politics/paul-ryan-trashes-vladimir-putin-not-donald-trump/index.html

    Clinton blames Russia for DNC hack as Trump seems to back annex of Crimea

    Democratic nominee accuses Trump of troubling willingness to support Putin while Republican rejects claims of link and people of Crimea would rather be with Russia

    Hillary Clinton has once again blamed Russian intelligence services for hacking the Democratic National Committee (DNC) computer system and accused Donald Trump of supporting the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

    As she did so, Trump denied having ties to Putin and Russia and appeared to voice his approval of Russias annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

    In her first national interview since clinching the Democratic nomination, Clinton spoke to Fox News Sunday. The interview was taped in Pennsylvania on Saturday morning, before Trump criticized Khizr Khan, the father of a dead soldier, who spoke at the Democratic national convention.

    Clinton answered tough questions on Benghazi, her emails and her campaign and policies, and focused her own attack on her opponents alleged links to Russia and Putin.

    We know that Russian intelligence services hacked into the DNC, Clinton said, in her first interview with Fox in more than five years. And we know that they arranged for a lot of those emails to be released and we know that Donald Trump has shown a very troubling willingness to back up Putin, to support Putin.

    Asked if she believed Putin wanted Trump to win the presidency, Clinton said she would not make that conclusion. But I think laying out the facts raises serious issues about Russian interference in our elections, in our democracy, she said.

    The US would not tolerate that from any other country, Clinton said, adding: For Trump to both encourage that and to praise Putin despite what appears to be a deliberate effort to try to affect the election, I think, raises national security issues.

    The hack of the DNC computers has also affected the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. For about five days, a hacker accessed an analytics data program maintained by the DNC that was used by the Clinton campaign to conduct voter analysis, said an aide familiar with the matter.

    According to an outside cybersecurity expert for the Clinton campaign, the campaign is confident the hack could not result in access to internal emails, voicemails or other internal communications and documents.

    The hack led to the resignation of the DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, on the eve of the partys convention, inspiring protests over leaked emails that showed top DNC staffers had discussed ways to undermine Clintons primary opponent, Bernie Sanders.

    The FBI is investigating and federal sources have indicated that Russian intelligence sources may be to blame. On Wednesday, Trump appealed to Russia to find 30,000 missing emails from the private server used by Clinton when she was secretary of state. He later said he had been being sarcastic.

    The billionaires campaign has rejected all claims of links to Russia and Putin. On Sunday an interview with Trump, also recorded on Saturday, was broadcast on ABCs This Week. He repeated: I have no relationship with Putin. I have no relationship with Putin.

    Asked about a comment from 2013 in which he said I do have a relationship with Putin, Trump said: Just so you understand, he said very nice things about me. But I have no relationship with him. He added: I dont think Ive ever met him. I never met him. I dont think Ive ever met him.

    Trump was asked about his recent comments disparaging Nato allies, the softening of the Republican platform on Russia and Ukraine and his equivocations on Russias annexation of Crimea, the subject of US sanctions and United Nations disapproval.

    Hes [Putins] not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand, he said. Hes not going to go into Ukraine, all right?

    Reminded that in fact Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, Trump said: But you know, the people of Crimea, from what Ive heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were. And you have to look at that, also just so you understand, that was done under Obamas administration.

    And as far as the Ukraine is concerned, its a mess. And thats under Obamas administration with his strong ties to Nato. So with all of these strong ties to Nato, Ukraine is a mess. Crimea has been taken. Dont blame Donald Trump for that.

    In a statement issued later on Sunday, the Clinton policy adviser Jake Sullivan said: What is he talking about? Russia is already in Ukraine. Does he not know that? What else doesnt he know? While Trump hasnt mastered basic facts about the world, he has mastered Putins talking points on Crimea.

    Asked about the removal from the GOP platform a call for supply of lethal weapons to Ukraine for defense purposes, Trump said: I wasnt involved in that. Honestly, I was not involved.

    Host George Stephanopoulos said: Your people were.

    Trump said: Yeah. I was not involved in that. Id like to Id have to take a look at it. But I was not involved in it They softened it, I heard. But I was not involved.

    One of Trumps people, campaign chair Paul Manafort, previously worked for Viktor Yanukovych, the former president of Ukraine and a Putin ally who now lives in exile in Russia. Appearing on NBCs Meet the Press, he said he had no influence on the platform committee and the change absolutely did not come from the Trump campaign.

    On ABC, Trump also said: If our country got along with Russia, that would be a great thing. When Putin goes out and tells everybody, and you talk about relationship, but he says, Donald Trump is gonna win. And Donald Trump is a genius. And then I have people saying, You should disavow. I said, Im gonna disavow that?

    But when Putin says good things, and when we have a possibility of having a good relationship with Russia I think thats good.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jul/31/clinton-blaming-russia-emails-dnc-hack

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