John McCain
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

John McCain doesn’t sound like he’s buying the idea that Jared Kushner’s efforts to set up a private line of communication with the Kremlin is normal in any way. Here’s what he said about it on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s “7:30” program:

“I know some administration officials are saying this is standard procedure. I don’t think it’s standard procedure prior to the inauguration of the president of the United States by someone who is not in an appointed position,” he said. “This is becoming more and more bizarre. In fact, you can’t make it up.”

At this point, I just want to pause to point out a couple of things. First, it was John McCain who personally delivered former MI6 officer Christopher Steele’s “dodgy dossier” on Trump’s Russian connections to FBI director James Comey.

‘I did what any citizen should do. I received sensitive information and handed it to the FBI,’ he told CNN – the network which broke the story that the document existed. It was then published in full by Buzzfeed.

‘That’s why I gave it to the FBI. I don’t know if it is credible or not but the information I thought deserved to be delivered to the FBI, the appropriate agency of government.’

He added: ‘It doesn’t trouble me because I don’t know if it is accurate or not. I have no way of corroborating that.

‘The individual gave me the information. I looked at it. After receiving that information I took it to the FBI.’

One reason that John McCain was interested in these rumors is because he thinks Vladmir Putin is a bigger threat to the United States than ISIS, but another reason is that the Russians hacked his campaign. On August 12th, 2016, DCLeaks released “roughly 300 emails from Republican targets, including the 2016 campaign staff of Arizona Senator John McCain [and] South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.”

Obviously, John McCain didn’t support Donald Trump for the Republican nomination, but he seems to realize that the Russians’ interest in Trump was at least in part an effort to sideline neoconservative anti-Putin hardliners like Sen. Graham and himself. These neoconservatives would have been happy with Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, but much less so with Rand Paul or certainly Trump. That his campaign was targeted by the Russians right along with Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party is not surprising.

Yet, the neoconservatives aren’t wrong all the time, and in this case their suspicions about Russia’s interest in Trump and possible two-way collusion are about more than self-preservation. McCain is pretty slick but he and Graham are most definitely loaded for bear when it comes to Trump. If there is ever an impeachment trial in the Senate, you can be almost certain that these two Republican senators won’t be taking the president’s side.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at