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Graham urges Trump to defend democracy with Russia sanctions


    The first page of the Joint Analysis Report narrative by the Department of Homeland Security and federal Bureau of Investigation and released on Dec. 29, 2016.

WASHINGTON >> A top Senate Republican is urging President-elect Donald Trump to defend democracy in the United States and around the world by punishing Russia for trying to interfere in the American presidential election as U.S. intelligence agencies allege.

“He’s going to be the defender of the free world here pretty soon,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, a frequent Trump critic, said in remarks broadcast Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” ”All I’m asking him is to acknowledge that Russia interfered, and push back. It could be Iran next time. It could be China.”

Trump has consistently refused to blame Russia in the hacks that American intelligence agencies say were directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. U.S. intelligence officials on Friday briefed the president-elect on their conclusions that the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 election in order to help him win the White House.

An unclassified version of the report directly tied Putin to election meddling and said that Moscow had a “clear preference” for Trump in his race against Hillary Clinton. Trump and his allies have bristled at any implication that the meddling helped him win the election. He won the Electoral College vote with 306 votes, topping the 270 votes required to become president.

The pushback from Graham comes between the release of the intelligence committee’s conclusion about Russian meddling and a consequential week for Trump, who will become the nation’s 45th president on Jan. 20.

On Wednesday alone, more information about the incoming administration could blast into the public sphere as if from a fire hose, not all of it under Trump’s control. He’s expected to hold a long-delayed press conference on how he’s organizing his global business empire to avoid conflicts of interest while he’s president. He has taken sporadic questions and done interviews, but it’ll be his first full-fledged news conference since July 27.

On Capitol Hill, the Senate is holding at least nine hearings on Trump’s Cabinet and other nominees, a pace set by the Republican majority that Democrats have complained is too fast. The government ethics office says several of Trump’s Cabinet choices have not completed a full review to avoid conflicts of interest.

Trump has repeatedly sought to downplay the allegations, alarming some who see a pattern of skepticism directed at U.S. intelligence agencies and a willingness to embrace the Russian leader. On Friday after receiving a classified briefing on the matter, Trump tried to change the subject to allegations that hadn’t been raised by U.S. intelligence. “Intelligence stated very strongly there was absolutely no evidence that hacking affected the election results. Voting machines not touched!”

He then declared in a series of tweets on Saturday that having a good relationship with Russia is “a good thing, not a bad thing.” Trump added, “only ‘stupid’ people or fools” would come to a different conclusion.

Trump had earlier urged Americans to get on with their lives. Graham retorted in the broadcast Sunday:

“Our lives are built around the idea that we’re free people. That we go to the ballot box. That we, you know, have political contests outside of foreign interference.”

There has been no official comment from Moscow on the report, which was released as Russia observed Orthodox Christmas.

But Alexei Pushkov, an influential member of the upper house of parliament, said on Twitter that “all the accusations against Russia are based on ‘confidence’ and suppositions. The USA in the same way was confident about (Iraqi leader Saddam) Hussein having weapons of mass destruction.”

Margarita Simonyan, the editor of government-funded satellite TV channel RT who is frequently mentioned in the U.S. report, said in a blog post: “Dear CIA: what you have written here is a complete fail.”

During the election, Trump praised the Russian strongman as a decisive leader, and argued that the two countries would benefit from a better working relationship — though attempts by the Obama administration at a “Russian reset” have proved unsuccessful.

At the same time, intelligence officials believe that Russia isn’t done intruding in U.S. politics and policymaking.

Immediately after the Nov. 8 election, Russia began a “spear-phishing” campaign to try to trick people into revealing their email passwords, targeting U.S. government employees and think tanks that specialize in national security, defense and foreign policy, the unclassified version of the report said.

The report said Russian government provided hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. The website’s founder, Julian Assange, has denied that it got the emails it released from the Russian government. The report noted that the emails could have been passed through middlemen.

Russia also used state-funded propaganda and paid “trolls” to make nasty comments on social media services, the report said. Intelligence officials say Moscow will apply lessons learned from its activities in the election to put its thumbprint on future elections in the United States and allied nations.

The public report was minus classified details that intelligence officials shared with President Barack Obama on Thursday.

In an interview with The Associated Press after the briefing, Trump said he “learned a lot” from his discussions with intelligence officials, but he declined to say whether he accepted their assertion that Russia had intruded in the election on his behalf.

Trump has said he will appoint a team within three months of taking office to develop a plan to “aggressively combat and stop cyberattacks.”


Jim Heintz contributed to this report from Moscow. Jill Colvin reported from New York.

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        • >>> Did you just make that up about the money? How do you know?

          Maybe the same way Trump knows that Russia did not hack the DNC. 😉


          Steve Bannon, Trump’s senior WhiteHouse Councelor, recently admitted being a follower of Vladimir Lenin, the father of communism:

          “I’m a Leninist… Lenin, wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”



          #MAGA? (Make America Grovel Again?)

        • Danno

          I think you are kind of twisting things around a bit.
          Bannon meant the he wants to bring down the establishment, just as Lenin did.
          He did not mean he was a communist ideologue, like Lenin.
          As far as I know, Bannon has different ideas of what he wants to replace it with.

    • IRT Sarge22, fully agree with your post. Both Sen. Graham and McCain lost their bids to become President believing they were the best and just cannot understand that a Donald J. Trump, an outsider, is the President elect.

      • Mr. Trump is not going to be king. Senator Graham is part of a co-equal branch of government that Mr. Trump needs to read up on. Trump is not the CEO, and needs to stop acting like he is. He needs to grow up a lot in the next couple of weeks.

        • Klastri, one of the reasons Hilliary lost was because she was the Queen of Sleaze. She didn’t stick to the issues. Neither do you. Trump in 11 days will become POTUS. What’s your claim to fame.

        • And lespark, what issues were those. Seemed like the Donald avoided issues like the plague and has been all over the map on various issues. So what issue did Hillary avoid?

        • Graham is 1 of 100 Senators. Trump is THE President. Does Graham acknowledge that the US has interfered in many elections in other countries, far more than what Russia is accused of. What sanctions should those countries impose on the US. Obama actively campaigned against Netanyahu for example.

        • Hillary? We talking about Graham. Why do trumpies drag their knuckles saying “We Won,we won. You lost” its over. This article is about a strain between a republican and rebillioncan.

        • IRT Klastri: Suddenly we have co-equal branches of government again? Shocking! Thank you for the civics lesson. I guess you would object to Trump stating “I have a pen and a phone” like snarky little Barry al-Hussein did?

        • You are right, CEI. Klastri knows but will not admit it was Obama who acted like a king or emperor when he said during his State of the Union address January 2014 that he would act on his own if Congress did not do as he wanted. He basically said he would make Congress irrelevant and the shocking thing is that Democrats stood and applauded.

        • Little Trumpettes remain obsessed with Obama, ignoring the fact that their Chump has bowed down to Russia and Putin after they raped our democracy. So sad.

          #MAGA? (Make America Grovel Again?)

  • “In Donald Trump, the GOP nominated the most pro-Russian U.S. presidential candidate since Henry Wallace, whose 1948 bid on the Progressive Party ticket was largely run by communists. Throughout last year’s campaign, Trump lavished praise on Russian President (and career KGB agent) Vladimir Putin, attacked NATO and encouraged the Kremlin to hack his Democratic opponent’s emails. He even proposed recognizing Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula — the first violent European land grab since World War II — a move that would put the United States in the company of Cuba and North Korea. Since the election, he has openly contradicted the intelligence community’s finding that Moscow tampered in our democracy, calling such claims a ‘political witch-hunt.'” — Washington Post

    • I have no problem of Russia backing the Donald and hating Hillary. But in the final analysis, what they did was basically released confidential information. Big deal. The democrats would make a big mistake in making this the issue rather than republican voter restriction practices which in my opinion really gave them the election. Come on Republicans. Why are you so afraid of your fellow Americans just because they are Black or brown? Show some guts for a change and run on a level playing field. Too much to ask for I know. But this will be more and more difficult for you as time goes on. So enjoy your victory and a piece of advice. Stop practicing Voodoo economics and do something constructive for a change, Eisenhower gave us the inter state highway system. What will the Donald and his fellow republicans give us? Hopefully more than just another grand recession.

    • “Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula — the first violent European land grab since World War II — a move that would put the United States in the company of Cuba and North Korea”

      The Crimea is traditionally part of Russia and was for a long time.
      Most of the people there are Russians and would prefer to be part of Russia.
      They had a referendum and the overwhelming vote was to be part of Russia.
      There were questions about the referendum’s validity, but the history and culture of the area support the conclusion.

      It was part of the Ukraine because the Ukraine was part of the USSR and Russia was the central power in the USSR.

      • Hillary would have made a fine president. She probably would be similar to her husband and if you remember, he had a pretty decent record. Stock market rose nicely under his presidency, unemployment was down. He wasn’t without faults but those problems would probably have been far worse if a republican was president.

        • Bombed a hospital, embarrassed a nation, but sure I made a few g’s in the market. Hill was an extension of war perpetuating. I looked at it as 2 doors, one had a killer behind it, one was questionable so we’ll see.

    • Sad to say Hillary is not free from being dangerous but I think she at least could be talked too. The Donald has such a thin skin which makes him extremely dangerous. That and his lack of knowledge and curiosity. (Kinda like G W Bush)

  • Trump, the peacock, can only see himself in the mirror. There is NO ROOM in the mirror for any introspection or higher level of thinking. Very scary.

    • Obama put sanctions in place because of Russian incursion in Ukraine, which Trump initially denied and then supported, allying his views on that subject with those of North Korea and Cuba. Additional sanctions were put in place because of Russian interference in the election. Russia hasn’t left Ukraine, but now Republicans want to lift sanctions because Russia helped them win the election. At best, this is called appeasement; at worst, it’s traitorous.

      • Trump will veto any sanctions that Congress brings up, so why is Graham grandstanding so much?

        Does he want Trump to get him kicked out of office on the next time?

        A few tweets will do that….

  • How does this work?

    In March, 2014, President Obama authorized sanctions on Russia for violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

    In 2016, Russia interfered with American elections, compromising the fundamental process, and possibly the outcome, of democracy, the process that defines America’s leadership in the world.

    This week, a survey showed that 84% of Republicans, pleased with the results of Russian hacking, are in favor of lifting sanctions on Russia.

    How, in such a short time, did the Republican party, which for so long claimed that it was the party of strong national defense and anti-communism, become the party of appeasement? This radical swing toward a corrupt Russian autocrat is so far against what both American political parties have stood against for decades that we can’t rule out the possibility that Trump’s next best friend will be Kim Jong Un.

      • Can you answer the question I asked: how did Republicans become the party of appeasement? How can Republicans, as some posters here have done in a single post, criticize Obama for not being tough enough on Putin at the same time that they’re thrilled to have elected Putin’s biggest fan-boy?

      • Who are you talking about. The Democrasses are lining up in the unemployment line. Thousands who for the last 8 years did nothing except rip America off. You included.

        • lespark,Permit me to opine on your wave.IRT two my Moderations.
          What’s up with that. I see the libs here are are allowed freewill to say & trash the Conservatives, But ,When the Shoe is On the Other Foot? The Libs gets a FREE PASS? C’mon SA let’s be fair.

        • Now Moi, please don’t blame libs for being moderated. That is just the silly system of the SA. You have to admit at least they have improved over the years. Now your comment says awaiting moderation but at some point that will be removed.

          Just consider moderation a bade of honor. lol

    • You’re leaving out American interference in Russian elections. Tit for tat.

      I’m sure Putin believes his intelligence agencies when they present their reports to him on American fun and games.

  • Your Comment Is Awaiting Moderation.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham is in NO position “To Urge” PE Trump to do anything regarding Russia!This guy and Yes, Sen.John McCain too,who during the campaign were all too eager to stab DJT in the Back many times,let alone “Bury The Hatchet” now? Are you kidding me? These two have Ulterior motives to disrupt PE Trump’s Admin. I simply Do Not Trust Them!

    I say ,when PE Trump and HIS Intel are in Office and in Charge,let them do their own investigation ,then decide what appropriate actions he needs to take against Russia/Putin. Remember Folks The Jury is Still out on that one .Right! Let’s make sure 1st!
    And ? BTW? Where is the Story of Obama’s Meddling in the 2015 Israeli Elections to unseat Big Ben? The US State Department funneled money to Negative Campaigns opposing Mr Netanyahu. Snakes in The Grass!And now when “the shoe is on the other foot”,Obama is Blaming the Russians for interfering in our Elections? Boy That one is Really RICH!

  • What is this? The Twilight Zone??? So many regulars here rationalizing and supporting Russian hacking of American interests? Or, are you guys long term Russian plants?

  • >>> the same way was confident about (Iraqi leader Saddam) Hussein having weapons of mass destruction

    No, not the same way. The CIA warned the Bush administration that “Curveball” was the only source and highly unreliable. Bush cherry-picked the assessment and made it sound like it was a sure thing.

  • I hope all you whiners will be watching history being made on January 20, 2017, Washington DC.
    Eat your hearts out.
    Kaput, fini, its over, turn out the lights, aloha, sayonara. Obama over and out. Get over it.
    #MAGA even for the whiners.

  • Some of Trump’s military and security advisors said they will pull their support if Trump cannot stand up to the Russians. And one advisor has already quit. Two of Trump’s generals– including Mad Dog Mathis are clashing with Mike Flynn, Trump’s pro Putin and pro Russia national security advisor.

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