Graham: I'd question the judgment of a Trump nominee who opposes Russian sanctions

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamLawmakers push back at Pentagon's possible Africa drawdown George Conway group drops ad seeking to remind GOP senators of their 'sworn oaths' ahead of impeachment trial House Democrats may call new impeachment witnesses if Senate doesn't MORE (R-S.C.) on Wednesday said that he would be hesitant to support a nominee for secretary of State who is not in favor of strict sanctions on Russia, hinting at a potential vote against President-elect Donald Trump's pick, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson.
 
"I can't imagine I would vote for anybody that believes that we should not sanction Russia given the fact that they did in fact interfere in our election. They've been destabilizing democracies all over the world," Graham said in an interview on CNN Wednesday. 
 
Tillerson has close business ties to Russia and has previously said he often finds sanctions to be ineffective. 
 
"If somebody wants to be secretary of State, and they hear the briefings that I heard, and they don't believe the Russians were involved in our election, interfering in our elections, then I really question their judgment," Graham continued.
 
"And if they don't believe that sanctions are appropriate given what Putin has been doing all over the world and including our own backyard, then I don't think they have the judgment to be secretary of State."
 
ADVERTISEMENT
Graham himself called for "crippling sanctions" against Russia in response to Moscow's believed interference in the 2016 election.

 
 
Podesta's email account was hacked, and his messages were published by WikiLeaks. According to a Washington Post report from Friday, the CIA has identified Russian individuals that handed the documents over to WikiLeaks. 
 
"So I don't know what their motive was, but here is what happened: Most of the information that was hacked into was designed to hurt Clinton, not going after Trump. But it could be us the next time," he added.
 
The lawmaker said that he wants to "punish" Russia for its actions in order to show the world that the U.S. will not tolerate such activities in the future.
 
"This is not a Republican or Democratic issue, I want to punish them for interfering in our elections, trying to destabilize the entire world ... and if you don't, the Chinese and the Iranians are going to see this as weakness and they will come after us when we take them on," he said.
 
When asked what Graham meant by "punish," the lawmaker replied that his goal is to impose "crippling sanctions" on the country.
 
"My goal is to put on President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Trump administration planning to crack down on 'birth tourism': report George Conway on Trump adding Dershowitz, Starr to legal team: 'Hard to see how either could help' MORE's desk, crippling sanctions based on the fact that they interfered in our elections, they are trying to destroy democratic movements all over the world ... and they need to pay a price," he said.
 
"Every Republican needs to understand that if we don't stand together as a nation, we will be next. And I want the Iranians, and the the Chinese and the North Koreans to know that America is not going to stand for this."