Graham: Trump worried blaming Russia will undermine his legitimacy

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamUS defense chief says Taliban deal 'looks very promising' but not without risk Lawmakers wary as US on cusp of initial deal with Taliban Graham requests interviews with DOJ, FBI officials as part of probe into Russia investigation MORE (R-S.C.) said in an interview broadcast Sunday that he thinks Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump administration eyes proposal to block jet engine sales to China: report Trump takes track to open Daytona 500 Brazile 'extremely dismayed' by Bloomberg record MORE is questioning U.S. intelligence assessments that Russia meddled in the election because the president-elect is worried about it undermining his legitimacy.

“I think he's worried that inquiring into what Russia did in the election is going to undermine his credibility and his legitimacy,” Graham, a frequent Trump critic and former GOP presidential candidate, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.

“Quite frankly, I haven't heard any Democrat at all of prominence say that we doubt that Donald Trump won,” he added.

“Putin's not the reason that Clinton lost and Trump won. I don't think anybody's saying that. So Mr. President-elect, that's not what we're trying to do. What we're trying to do is find out what the Russians did in our elections and make sure that other people including the Russians won't do it next time.”

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An intelligence report released on Friday concluded Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential election with the intention of helping him win.

After criticizing Democrats and downplaying Russia’s role in the election, Trump tweeted on Saturday that “only ‘stupid’ people” do not want a good relationship with Russia. He added that the United States has “enough problems around the world.”

Graham during the NBC interview said there is “no doubt in my mind” that Russians interfered in the elections, hacking John Podesta’s emails and compromising the Democratic National Committee.

“And it seems pretty clear to me that WikiLeaks got it from the Russians. It didn't affect the outcome, but they tried to interfere in our election,” he said.

“In a couple weeks, Donald Trump will be the defender of the free world and democracy. You should let everybody know in America, Republicans and Democrats, that you're going to make Russia pay a price for trying to interfere. Even though it didn't affect the outcome, they tried to interfere. And they need to pay a price. And I don't care what their motives were.”