McCain and Graham urge US to hit Russia back over election hacking

Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMartha McSally fundraises off 'liberal hack' remark to CNN reporter Meghan McCain blasts NY Times: 'Everyone already knows how much you despise' conservative women GOP senator calls CNN reporter a 'liberal hack' when asked about Parnas materials MORE (R-Ariz.) and 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 urged the U.S. to hit back at Russia over Kremlin's alleged interference in the 2016 election.

"You can do a number of things," McCain told Fox News, including strengthening sanctions agains Russia, increasing U.S. presence in the Baltic countries and giving "defensive weapons to Ukraine so that they can defend themselves."

Graham echoed McCain's assessment, adding that the U.S. should focus on retaliatory steps with lasting impact.

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"The bottom line is you need to hit Russia in a sustained fashion so if [President] Obama tries to do something going out the door that's not sustained, then you send the wrong signal," Graham said.

“Let the new Congress and the new president deal with Russia, pass new sanctions, much tougher than the ones we already have. ... I would put their energy sector under sanction,” he said.

When McCain was asked whether he thought the tough anti-Russian measures would incite Moscow to hit back even stronger, the senator said inaction is not an option.

“Look, if you’re able to change the results of an election, then you have undermined the very fundamentals of democracy,” said McCain, while accusing the Obama administration of passively observing Russia's actions.  

“[Vladimir Putin] understands strength, and that’s all that he understands,” he added.
Both lawmakers have been highly critical of Russian actions in the past, and have urged other lawmakers from both parties to take Moscow's alleged interference in the U.S. elections seriously.
 
"We need to let all the adversaries of America know that if you interfere in our elections you are going to pay a heavy price and those who doubt that we should retaliate, then you really don't understand the world at all," Graham said.
 
The Obama administration is reportedly preparing retaliatory actions against Russia that could include new sanctions on its economy.