In audio obtained by the Guardian, McCain tells it is the one aspect of our showdown 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 showdown 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 poll. 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 described international censure 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 position of foreign affairs in 2017. I could make a coherent, cogent debate that the world is more dangerous than any time in the last 70 years, said MCain, who chairs the Senate armed service 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 conveyed his hope that all of his colleagues will support a reaction which is proportionate and will also tell Vladimir Putin, the ayatollahs and the Chinese that there is a new squad in town.

McCain though was full of praise for many of Trumps cabinet picks. He told colleagues “the member states national” security squad that chairwoman Trump has assembled is as strong or better than any Ive ever seen. He had particular kudo for freshly corroborated secretary of defense James Mattis. Im not sure if person or persons can have a profound effect but if anyone can have a profound effect it is General Mattis, told 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 chairperson 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 options in foreign policy and offered the White House crucial subsistence in advancing the nomination of state department nominee Rex Tillerson.

Read more: www.theguardian.com