Graham: I’ll have ‘hard time’ backing nominees who reject intel on Russia
Mark Hensch, The Hill, Jan 4 2017
Lindsey Graham says he would struggle with supporting President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks if they reject the intelligence community’s findings about Russian hacking. Graham said on CNN’s “At This Hour” Wednesday:
I’m looking for people who understand the world as it is. If a nominee for a critical job doesn’t understand what the Russians are up to, I’ll have hard time believing they have the judgment to do their job.
Graham said Trump’s choice for Sec State, for example, would face an uphill confirmation battle if he dismissed evidence Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential race. He said:
He’ll have a hard time getting my vote because it’s clear. Again, you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes.
Trump tapped Exxon Mobile Corp. CEO Rex Tillerson to be his next Sec State. Graham has repeatedly voiced concerns over Tillerson’s past business dealings with Putin and his government. Graham’s comments come as Trump remains skeptical about intelligence community claims that Russian hackers tried to help Trump win the presidential election. Graham, who competed against Trump in last year’s GOP presidential primary, said he’s confused by the president-elect’s stance. He said:
What bothers me is that President-elect Trump seems to get the Chinese for what they are. The Iranian agreement is bad, he understands that. He understands the threat we face from Daesh. He understands that we cannot let the North Koreans build an ICBM to attack our homeland. When it comes to Russia, he seems to have a blind spot and I’m completely perplexed. Putin did hack into our political system and they’re doing it to other political systems. They need to pay a price.
Trump late Tuesday claimed that a planned intelligence briefing about “so-called” Russian hacking had been delayed until Friday. Officials, though, dismissed that charge, claiming the briefing had always been scheduled for Friday. The president-elect also insinuated “more time” is needed for intelligence agencies to build a case Russia interfered in the 2016 race before the meeting. Trump has said he had more information about the hacking that he would release.