Graham: We can't go forward as a nation 'until we punish Russia'

Graham: We can't go forward as a nation 'until we punish Russia'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTop Louisiana health official rips Cassidy over ObamaCare repeal bill Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE (R-S.C.) on Sunday said the Russians need to be punished for their meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

"I do not believe we can go forward as a nation until we punish Russia," he said during an interview on NBC's "Meet The Press."

Graham said he does not need additional proof to confirm that Moscow attempted to hack the election.

"I'm 1,000 percent certain that the Russians interfered in our election," he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

"They did try to undercut Clinton. I don't think they changed the outcome," he said of the presidential vote that put President Trump in office. "Russia didn't change the outcome of the election but they sure as hell tried and I want to punish the Russians and I hope the president will see their interference as a threat to our democracy."

Graham said he has bipartisan support for sanctions against Russia for interfering in the presidential election.

"And my goal is to put it on the president's desk and I hope he would embrace it," he said.

The president's response to sanctions is uncertain. Trump has taken a friendly approach to the Kremlin and has signaled openness to removing sanctions put in place by President Obama in response to Russian aggression in Ukraine and Crimea, and the Kremlin's interference in the presidential election. 

The South Carolina Republican said he doesn't see any need at this point for a special prosecutor or independent commission in the Russia investigation, something several Democrats and several GOP members of Congress have requested.

Right now, the investigation into the Russian meddling is a "counter-intelligence investigation, not a criminal investigation," he said.

"So you don't need a special prosecutor," he said, adding that he trusts the deputy attorney general.

"If he gets to the point that he can't do it and it becomes a criminal investigation, we'll have a special prosecutor."