Senate

McCain: Armed Services panel continues to address Russian cyber threats

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Thursday the panel will work to combat Russia's disinformation campaign that aims to undermine democratic governments and sow division and dissent throughout the United States.

"We know that Putin's Russia has not slowed its efforts to interfere in our elections and domestic affairs. The Senate Armed Services Committee will continue working to address this challenge, which is a threat to our national security," McCain said in a statement.

The remarks come after Facebook revealed Monday that Moscow purchased online ads that specifically targeted key presidential swing states such as Michigan and Wisconsin as well as specific demographic groups in an attempt to influence the presidential election.

The ads, which were seen by roughly 10 million users, have been turned over to lawmakers for review.

McCain said he is a victim of one of Russia's targeted ads, which planted a false narrative that he met with a leader from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

"Among the thousands of online advertisements reportedly purchased by Russian entities over the last year is a photo falsely suggesting I met with the leaders of ISIS, which has no basis in truth and has been debunked by every major fact-checker," the Republican lawmaker said.

"Other advertisements purchased by the Russians during the 2016 election sought to fuel racial divisions, stoke fear of immigrants and refugees, and undermine support for U.S. foreign policy," McCain continued.

McCain, who has repeatedly warned about Russia's maligned intent to subvert the U.S. presidential election, says the ads are "just one element of Vladimir Putin's long-term goal of undermining democracies around the world."

Facebook's announcement has created a rush of lawmakers who want to look into the matter.

Both the House and Senate Intelligence committees are looking into the extent and the success in which Russia disseminated false news or further fanned inflammatory reports.

-- Updated: 4:52 p.m.

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