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McCain sets hearing on cyberattacks for next week

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
Win McNamee | Getty Images
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)

Sen. John McCain has set a hearing next week on foreign cyberthreats, where accusations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election will likely feature prominently.

The Arizona Republican, the Armed Services Committee chairman and a staunch backer of stronger sanctions on Moscow, planned the hearing for Thursday morning. James Clapper, director of national intelligence, Marcel Lettre, undersecretary of Defense for intelligence, and Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, are called to appear.

The announcement comes a day after the White House sanctioned nine entities and individualsit believes were involved in alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. President-elect Donald Trump, who on Thursday called for the U.S. to "move on" after the actions were unveiled, has so far cast doubt on the intelligence community's conclusion that the Russian government directed cyberattacks on American political organizations. He has called allegations of meddling attempts to delegitimize his election.

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the measures "provocative" and "aimed at further weakening the Russia-U.S. relationship." But he said Russia would not expel any U.S. diplomats in response.

The hearing will come shortly after the start of the new Congress. Trump also said he will get an intelligence briefing next week on "the facts of the situation."

McCain previously called for a select committee to investigate the Russian hacking accusations. He and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina also said Thursday that they will lead the push for "stronger sanctions" on Russia in Congress.

It remains to be seen how much the witnesses called would expand on the findings already made public.

After the sanctions were announced Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security and FBI released a joint report on the methods the agencies say Russian civilian and military intelligence services used "to compromise and exploit networks and endpoints associated with the U.S. election, as well as a range of U.S. government, political and private sector entities."

They said one group "compromised a U.S. political party," presumably the Democratic National Committee, in spring 2015 with a phishing campaign containing a malicious link. They added that the same political party was compromised again in spring 2016 via targeted phishing.