McCain on Russia: ‘We Need to Impose the Most Severe Sanctions’

Arizona senator says Malaysia Airlines plane crash scenario was clearly orchestrated.

Jake Tapper, Sen. John McCain and Ron Fournier
National Journal
Rachel Roubein
July 17, 2014, 2:44 p.m.

A fast-paced news day in­clud­ing a downed Malay­sia air­liner and the launch of a ground as­sault in Ga­za led up to Na­tion­al Journ­al and CNN’s first Polit­ics On Tap event Thursday fea­tur­ing Sen. John Mc­Cain.

The Ari­zona Re­pub­lic­an called for severe sanc­tions to be put on Rus­sia if pro-sep­ar­at­ist groups are found to be at fault.

The event — some of which will air on CNN — was held at a bar in Wash­ing­ton and was sched­uled to cen­ter around the hu­man­it­ari­an crisis at the bor­der, midterm elec­tions, and the Re­pub­lic­an Party’s evol­u­tion.

In­stead, Mc­Cain began by ad­dress­ing re­ports that an an­ti­air­craft mis­sile was in­volved in the crash of a Malay­sia Air­lines plane.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 5096) }}

“We know for sure that the air­plane — when it struck the ground — it had already been hit,” Mc­Cain told me­dia and Cap­it­ol Hill and K Street pro­fes­sion­als in at­tend­ance. “In oth­er words the debris is spread over a 10-mile peri­od, so it couldn’t have just been the plane in­tact hit­ting the ground.”

Earli­er in the day, a Malay­sia Air­lines plane left Am­s­ter­dam and headed for Ku­ala Lum­pur. A sur­face-to-air mis­sile struck the plane with 280 pas­sen­gers and 15 crew mem­bers aboard, crash­ing the air­liner in east­ern Ukraine, me­dia out­lets re­por­ted as the story de­veloped. It is un­clear if Amer­ic­ans were aboard the air­craft, Mc­Cain said Thursday even­ing.

It was prob­ably not a mech­an­ic­al fail­ure, Mc­Cain said, be­cause the plane wouldn’t have come apart. A sur­face-to-air mis­sile that came from a sep­ar­at­ist-con­trolled base or just over the bor­der in Rus­sia is the only lo­gic­al con­clu­sion, he said.

Vice Pres­id­ent Joe Biden offered U.S. as­sist­ance to Ukraine Pres­id­ent Petro Poroshen­ko, and the U.S. will send a team to Ukraine to in­vest­ig­ate the in­cid­ent. The U.S. will also help sup­port an in­ter­na­tion­al in­vest­ig­a­tion, Pres­id­ent Obama told Malay­si­an Prime Min­is­ter Najib Razak.

Also on Thursday, a 10-day-long con­flict in Is­rael came to a head when Is­rael launched a ground of­fens­ive in Ga­za. The ob­ject­ive is to deal a “sig­ni­fic­ant blow to Hamas’ ter­ror in­fra­struc­ture,” Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Net­an­yahu said in a state­ment.

Mc­Cain blamed Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry for un­suc­cess­ful ne­go­ti­ations.

“All this in my view began when our sec­ret­ary of state raised the ex­pect­a­tions about the Is­raeli-Palestini­an peace talks,” he said. “The situ­ation today has something to do with that total fail­ure.”

If a coun­try con­tigu­ous to the United States launched thou­sands of mis­siles at the land and its people, the Amer­ic­an gov­ern­ment would take the same mil­it­ary ap­proach as Is­rael, Mc­Cain said.

“Most any­body that looks at it ob­ject­ively, what do you ex­pect the Is­rael­is to do when people are launch­ing hun­dreds of rock­ets at you?” Mc­Cain asked at the event.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 5098) }}

Since early last week, the con­ver­sa­tion in Wash­ing­ton has swirled around the hu­man­it­ari­an crisis at the bor­der. Both parties and cham­bers are ana­lyz­ing Obama’s re­quest for emer­gency sup­ple­ment­al fund­ing — and some are form­ing their own solu­tions — to ad­dress the surge of un­ac­com­pan­ied minors flee­ing vi­ol­ence and eco­nom­ic dis­par­it­ies in Cent­ral Amer­ica’s North­ern Tri­angle.

Chil­dren are cling­ing to trains as they jour­ney to the United States, Mc­Cain said.

“Are we go­ing to say, ‘Wel­come’ — as some of my lib­er­al Demo­crat col­leagues want — and sub­ject these young people to that?” he asked. “Of course not.”

Ex­pand­ing em­bassies and es­tab­lish­ing con­su­lates in El Sal­vador, Guatem­ala, and Hon­dur­as could help the res­id­ents ap­peal for asylum be­fore at­tempt­ing il­leg­al entry to the U.S., Mc­Cain said.

What We're Following See More »
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
1 days ago

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
1 days ago

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
1 days ago

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
1 days ago

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Sanders: Obama Is a Progressive
1 days ago

“Do I think President Obama is a progressive? Yeah, I do,” said Bernie Sanders, in response to a direct question in tonight’s debate. “I think they’ve done a great job.” But Hillary Clinton wasn’t content to sit out the latest chapter in the great debate over the definition of progressivism. “In your definition, with you being the gatekeeper of progressivism, I don’t think anyone else fits that definition,” she told Sanders.