South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who has been calling for a full investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. election, said on Tuesday that nearly the entirety of the Senate believes Russia interfered with the U.S. election.
“There are 100 United States senators. Amy Klobuchar is on this trip with us. She’s a Democrat from Minnesota. I would say that 99 percent of us believe that the Russians did this, and we’re going to do something about it,” Graham said speaking on CNN’s ‘The Situation Room.”
If correct, that places President-elect Donald Trump at direct odds with the entire U.S. Senate — something that is difficult to achieve in today’s politically polarized Congress, a fact which was not lost on Graham.
Appearing with Graham was Arizona Senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain from Estonia, a Baltic nation Graham said knows firsthand the danger of Russia.
“It’s just not in our backyard. They’re doing it all over the world, not just the United States. They’re interfering in elections in democratic countries’ efforts to self-determination all over the world,” Graham said of Russia.
“Along with Senator McCain, after this trip is over, we’re going to have the hearings. We’re going to put sanctions together that hit Putin as an individual and his inner circle for interfering in our election,” Graham said, referring to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
The South Carolina and Arizona Republicans, along with Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar are meeting with officials across a wide array of European nations who have issues with Russia. The three senators will travel to Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, and Ukraine after they leave Estonia.
McCain also reiterated his worries about Rex Tillerson, the retiring ExxonMobil CEO whom Trump has chosen to lead the State Department. McCain declined to say whether there would be a confirmation showdown next month in the Senate, noting that presidents tend to have the right to pick their own advisers. But McCain said he had “concerns” about Tillerson’s favorable posture toward Putin and Russia.
The U.S. intelligence agencies have unanimously agreed that not only was Russia behind the hacking of various U.S. Democratic organizations, including the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta, but they sought to tilt the election in Donald Trump’s favor, a claim that Trump and his team are increasingly isolated in disputing.