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Sen. Graham wants Congress to investigate Russia’s possible meddling in election

Sen.+Lindsey+Graham+speaks+at+the+Aspen+Ideas+Festival+in+Aspen%2C+Colo.%2C+on+June+29%2C+2015.+%28Olivier+Douliery%2FAbaca+Press%2FTNS%29
Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colo., on June 29, 2015. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colo., on June 29, 2015. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

TNS

TNS

Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colo., on June 29, 2015. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

By Lisa Mascaro | Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump may seek improved relations with Russia, but Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., wants Vladimir Putin held responsible if the Russian government was involved in cyberattacks to disrupt the U.S. elections.

Graham, who has sparred openly with Trump, his former rival in the presidential primary, is proposing that Congress hold a series of hearings on “Russia’s misadventures throughout the world” — including whether they were involved in “hacking into the DNC.”

“Were they involved in cyberattacks that had a political component to it in our elections?” Graham said.

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If so, Graham said, “Putin should be punished.” U.S. officials allege that Russia was involved in the hack on the Democratic National Committee that resulted in the release of sensitive emails ahead of the election.

Graham is one of the Senate’s leading foreign policy experts, and his scrutiny of Putin comes as Trump’s desire for closer ties with Russia has drawn deep concern from the national security establishment.

“Here’s what I would tell Republicans: We cannot sit on the sidelines as a party and let allegations against a foreign government interfering in our election process go unanswered because it may have been beneficial to our cause,” Graham added.

He acknowledged differences with Trump — “clearly, me and the Donald have issues,” he said — but he offered an olive branch to “do everything to help him, because he’ll be commander in chief in dangerous times.”

“He wants to reset with Russia. Maybe he can do it. But here’s my view about Russia: They’re a bad actor in the world and they need to be reined in,” Graham said. “He is the president of the United States, and he is the leading diplomat for the country, but Congress has a role.”

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