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 GrahamTrump upends controversial surveillance fight The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump on US coronavirus risks: 'We're very, very ready for this' Surveillance fight emerges as intelligence flashpoint 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 Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Congress eyes billion to billion to combat coronavirus Sanders makes the case against Biden ahead of SC primary 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 KushnerOvernight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — California monitoring 8,400 people for coronavirus | Pence taps career official to coordinate response | Dems insist on guardrails for funding Trump upends controversial surveillance fight Top Trump advisers discuss GOP need to act on health care at retreat with senators 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 MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout 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.