The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that the United States should be “hitting back” at Russia for harboring those responsible for the recent cyberattacks.
Partial transcript as follows:
RADDATZ: And some in your party say that President Biden shouldn’t meet with Vladimir Putin because of these enormous cyberattacks and what’s happening in Russia. You’ve said it looks like a reward.
MCCAUL: Well, I think —
RADDATZ: Tony Blinken said, you know, this is something we want to do.
MCCAUL: I think the price for admission, to a ticket for this seat, was way too high. I mean, he — for instance, Nord Stream II pipeline.
The president waved in the natural interest Nord Stream II which will be Putin’s pipeline going into Europe so that Europe — European — you know, our partners will be dependent on Russian energy.
I don’t think that’s in the United States’ national interest. And, quite frankly, it’s not in Europe’s best interest either. And this really empowered Putin when this happened. And I think we’re giving him a lot of stuff.
RADDATZ: I want to just stop you there for a second. The Germans, one of our key allies, support the project and say that not seeing it through would have larger ramifications with Russia than canceling it.
MCCAUL: Right. And, Germany is the only sympathetic country in Europe that wants this. Their former chancellor is a lobbyist for the Russian, you know, Federation which calls into question a lot of this.
I think it’s — I think it’s a bad move. I don’t think it’s in our national interest to do so. And I think we’re not — you know, you want to go into these talks at positions of strength, not of weakness. And I think he’s going in a little bit out of weakness because he’s made all these concessions including Navalny, which Congress mandatorily called for those sanctions on Nord Stream, but also on Navalny. And President Biden has not enforced those secondary sanctions on the — the chemical poisoning of the opposition leader of Putin.
RADDATZ: And — and what really should he do? I — I — I put this to Tony Blinken as well. Sanctions have not changed Vladimir Putin’s behavior much.
MCCAUL: Well, the threat of sanctions on Nord Stream did shut it down. That’s a good point to make. I agree with you. And when it comes to cyber-attacks. I mean here — here we go. We — we let him go forward with the pipeline, Martha, and then the Russians hacked Colonial Pipeline, or an organized criminal element, which I think it’s all interconnected, personally. I think Putin has tacit approval on this. But we had SolarWinds, which was state — it was state sanctioned. And now we have what’s — what’s happened with Colonial Pipeline, yet no repercussions. The irony is the two pipeline here, right? We allow Putin’s pipeline, shut down Keystone, and then the Russians hack Colonial Pipeline. To me that’s — there’s something disturbing about that.
RADDATZ: Who — who wins in a cyber war with Russia?
MCCAUL: Well, I think — I think we need to let — demonstrate and the president needs to demonstrate with Putin, there will be consequences to your actions if you continue to do this.
They have been mounting this up in the last just month. And, extraordinarily. And I think sanctions are great, but I think it’s time to start thinking about hitting back.
When we do attribution, we need to have rules of the road. I have — I passed the Cyber Diplomacy Bill out of my committee. We need — they need to know that — that when they do this, there are consequences to their actions and we’re going to hit them back. Until we do that, they’re going to continue with bad behavior.
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