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

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamEight Republicans join Democrats to confirm head of DOJ environmental division GOP sees debt ceiling as its leverage against Biden DACA court ruling puts weight of immigration reform on Democrats 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 TrumpRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Jake Ellzey defeats Trump-backed candidate in Texas House runoff DOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's Capitol riot lawsuit 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 ComeyBiden sister has book deal, set to publish in April Mystery surrounds Justice's pledge on journalist records NYT publisher: DOJ phone records seizure a 'dangerous incursion' on press freedom 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) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel 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.”