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Responding to intelligence officials’ report that Russia tried to influence the U.S. presidential election in favor of President-elect Donald Trump, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Arizona) on Sunday said he doesn’t know what to make of Mr. Trump’s dismissal of the issue.

“I don’t know what to make of it because it’s clear the Russians interfered,” he told CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “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. But facts are stubborn things. They did hack into this campaign.”

In an interview with “Fox News Sunday,” Mr. Trump said Sunday that new revelations about Russia’s influence on his behalf are “ridiculous.”

“It’s just another excuse. I don’t believe it,” Trump said. “… Every week it’s another excuse.  We had a massive landslide victory, as you know, in the Electoral College.”

McCain called for a select committee to further investigate the extent of Russia’s influence and intentions.

“I would like in an ideal world to have a select committee,” he said, adding that he would hope such a committee would be made up of leaders on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Foreign Relations Committee and Armed Services Committee.

In the meantime, McCain said, senators are putting together a plan to investigate the issue through a subcommittee on the Senate Armed Services Committee — and that he’s “confident” it will be handled on a bipartisan basis.

“We’ll go to work on it, we’ll go to work immediately because the issue of cyber is not a static issue,” he said. “…You can’t make this issue partisan, it’s just — it’s too important. A fundamental of a democracy is a free and fair election.”

McCain also said he’s concerned about Mr. Trump’s posture toward Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin, reminding the public that Putin is not someone to be underestimated.

“Vladimir Putin is a thug and a murderer and a killer and a KGB agent,” he said. “…Let’s call Vladimir Putin for what he is. Does that mean you don’t deal with him or talk to him? Of course you talk to him. But you do it the way that Ronald Reagan did, and that’s from a position of strength.”

McCain said he hopes Mr. Trump takes the advice of people like his appointee for the Defense Department, retired Gen. James Mattis, on how to deal with Russia.

“I hope that he would call people that he respects and who the American people respect and get the facts,” McCain said. “The facts are there about Russian behavior and Russian — not just hacking into the United States 2016 election campaign, but throughout the world.”

Along those lines, McCain expressed “concern” about the leading candidate to be Mr. Trump’s secretary of state, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson. Tillerson has worked closely with Putin: the pair first met during the 1990s and have worked together on a handful of deals relating to Tillerson’s position at Exxon.

“It’s a matter of concern to me that he has such a close personal relationship with Vladimir Putin,” he said. “And obviously they’ve done enormous deals together and that would color his approach to Vladimir Putin and the Russian threat.”

Still, McCain said the Senate would give Tillerson a fair hearing should Mr. Trump formally choose him for the post: “We will give him his chance,” he said.

© 2016 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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  • HEY JOHN I BELIEVE THE RUSSIANS MADE JILL STEIN SCAM PEOPLE OUT OF THEIR MONEY TO HAVE THIS RECOUNT!!! & HOW MUCH OF THE PEOPLES MONEY DID SHE POCKET ??? JOHN CAN YOU & MITCH McCONNELL CHECK ON THIS & LET THE NY TIMES KNOW WHERE THEY CAN ADD THEIR B.S. TO IT !! PLEASE JOHN LET THE PEOPLE KNOW BEFORE WE VOTE !! THANK YOU L.L.H.

  • Hey Johnny boy, Trump ended up with more votes after the Wisconsin recount. Was Putin in town for the Packers game?

  • He needs to retire.

  • McCain, McConnell, Graham, and Ryan are fighting Trump because they know he’s serious about draining the swamp of establishment corruption. They all are freaking out their own pay-to-play scams and other secrets will be exposed to the American people. They’re making it very obvious they’re running scared

  • You are a!!!!!!

  • The fake news polls show Hillary was winning, so the government did not bother by the hacking, but since she lost, they decide that the hacking helped Trump. Lol

  • Absurd

  • It’s made up Little Johnny. It’s all a BIG FAT LIE. There’s no truth in the hacking. Who has the proof? There’s no proof. Who squealed or leaked about the hack? No body they know yet. It’s all a fabrication in your minds because Hillary lost SO BAD. She LIED her way and cheated her way right out of the White House. So in return America has to set threw all make bale believe Fabricated Miss leading LIES on how Russia Hack the DNC. And they are running unsecured servers. And Hillary is crying there’s a rat. How stupid do you think Americans are? I really think they tried to your brains, but Russia said there no brains any were to hack in Washington DC.

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