Graham says Russians 'up to it again' with election interference: 'We need more sanctions, not less'

Graham says Russians 'up to it again' with election interference: 'We need more sanctions, not less'
© Stefani Reynolds

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamWhite House won't move forward with billions in foreign aid cuts GOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads Cindy McCain says no one in Republican Party carries 'voice of reason' after husband's death MORE (R-S.C.) warned Sunday that Russians are "up to it again" in regard to interfering with American elections, and called on President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE to impose "more sanctions, not less" against the country.

Appearing for an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation," Graham also broke with White House senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerPresident tweets 'few work harder' than Ivanka, Jared PETA billboard in Baltimore calls Kushner a 'rich pest' Top immigration aide experienced 'jolt of electricity to my soul' when Trump announced campaign MORE, who last week downplayed Russia's interference in the 2016 election as "a couple of Facebook ads."

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Graham noted that the Russians hacked Democratic emails and used social media to pit "one American against the other" in the 2016 election, saying that "an attack on one party" should be considered "an attack on all."

"Can you imagine what we would be saying if the Russians or the Iranians hacked into the presidential team of the Republican Party? This is a big deal," he said. "It’s not just a few Facebook ads. They were very successful in pitting one American against the other during the 2016 campaign by manipulating social media."

"And they actually got into the campaign email system of the Democratic Party," Graham continued. "An attack on one party should be an attack on all. The Russians are up to it again. And here’s what I tell President Trump: Everything we've done with the Russians is not working. We need more sanctions, not less.”

Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also said his committee would work with the Senate Intelligence Committee and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to "harden our infrastructure against Russia or anybody else interfering in 2020."

"The takeaway for me is they were very involved in the 2016 election, they’re coming at us again. I’d like to stop them. And one way to stop them is to make them pay a price," he added.

Senate Republicans have pushed back on Trump's efforts to lift sanctions against a number of Russian companies. Graham's comments also come days after the release of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony MORE's report on his probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which did not find evidence to conclude that the Trump campaign engaged in collusion with Russia to win the election.