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Graham: 'Fake news' to say Russia did not meddle in US election

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOvernight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission Graham: Trump will 'be helpful' to all Senate GOP incumbents John Boehner tells Cruz to 'go f--- yourself' in unscripted audiobook asides: report MORE (R-S.C.) on Sunday said it is “fake news” to say that Russia did not meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

“The idea that Russia did not meddle in our election is fake news,” Graham said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“They did meddle in our election and they're doing it again in 2018,” he added.

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President TrumpDonald TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE said on Friday that he will press Russian President Vladimir Putin on Moscow's meddling during their meeting later this month.

“We don’t want anyone tampering with elections," Trump said, promising Russia’s interference in U.S. elections will be on the summit’s agenda.

Trump has previously denied that Russia influenced the 2016 election, despite an assessment from U.S. intelligence agencies confirming some degree of interference.  

As recently as Thursday, Trump tweeted that Moscow says it did not interfere.

“Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!" Trump tweeted. "Where is the DNC Server, and why didn’t Shady James ComeyJames Brien ComeyJohn Durham's endgame: Don't expect criminal charges Trump DOJ officials sought to block search of Giuliani records: report Tina Fey, Amy Poehler to host Golden Globes from separate coasts amid pandemic MORE and the now disgraced FBI agents take and closely examine it? Why isn’t Hillary/Russia being looked at? So many questions, so much corruption!"

Trump and Putin are slated to meet July 16 in Helsinki, at the end of Trump's scheduled trip to Europe to attend a summit with NATO allies and stop in the United Kingdom.

Critics say Trump's summit with Putin is ill-advised, considering special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE is currently conducting an investigation into Russia’s interference in the election.

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton on Wednesday argued that such criticism is “complete nonsense.”

"The president determined that, despite the political noise in the U.S., direct communication between him and President Putin was in the interest of the United States, in the interest of Russia, and in the interest of peace and security around the world,” Bolton said.

On “Meet the Press,” Graham said he supports the meeting but hopes Trump will come out strongly against Russia’s actions.

“I would urge President Trump work with Russia in Syria,” Graham said. “We have to deal with Russia. They're a power throughout the world. But let Putin know that what he did in the past is unacceptable.”

“Most importantly, if you continue to undermine our democracy and others, you're going to pay a heavy price,” Graham added. “If Putin doesn't understand that after this summit, then we've made, then we’ve made a big mistake.”