Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday went after members of his own party who think the Russians did the United States a service by hacking Democratic emails, saying that people who have that attitude are unpatriotic.
“We should all ― Republicans, Democrats ― condemn Russia for what they did. To my Republican friends who are gleeful, you’re making a huge mistake,” Graham said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “When WikiLeaks released information during the Bush years about the Iraq War that was embarrassing to the administration, that put our troops at risk, most Democrats condemned it. Some celebrated it.”
“Most Republicans are condemning what Russia did. And to those who are gleeful about it, you’re a political hack. You’re not a Republican. You’re not a patriot,” he added. “If this is not about us, then I’ll never know what will be about us. Because when one party is compromised, all of us are compromised.”
On Friday, the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency released a report concluding that Russian President Vladimir Putin had directed efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections with the goal of helping Donald Trump win.
“Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order, but these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations,” the three agencies concluded.
Trump has so far refused to say publicly that he accepts their conclusion, arguing that computers are complicated and it’s difficult to know who is truly behind a hack. On Sunday, his incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus insisted that the president-elect does accept that finding, although the Trump team doesn’t believe Russia’s involvement ultimately had any effect on the election results.
Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, which released the hacked Democratic emails, has been embraced by conservative media. Last month, Fox News host and outspoken Trump booster Sean Hannity said Assange had “done us a favor” by making the stolen emails public.
Trump, too, has tweeted Assange’s statements seemingly as proof that Russia was not behind the hacks.
Trump and his advisers have also tried to blame the hack’s victims, the Democratic National Committee, by saying it’s their fault for not having better cybersecurity.
Graham has been one of the strongest proponents of aggressively investigating Russia’s role in last year’s electoral interference. He, along with some other senators, want to establish a special select committee to specifically look into the hacking. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), however, has rejected that approach and said any investigations will go through the pre-existing committee structure.
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