GOP senator lays into Trump for 'empowering' Putin, 'betraying democracy'


Sen. Lindsey Graham slammed Donald Trump for continuing to work to water down sanctions being imposed on Russia for interfering in the U.S. electoral process, describing the behavior as "betraying democracy."

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) slammed the Trump administration for their continued opposition to sanctions imposed on Russia for interfering in the 2016 presidential election.

The sanctions imposed under President Barack Obama applied to two of Russia's intelligence agencies, three companies who supported their efforts to engage in cyber-attacks against the United States, and multiple officials and operatives who were ordered to leave the country.

The Trump administration, continuing their pattern of doing as Russia's government demands, has been working to undo those sanctions while refusing to agree with the determination of multiple intelligence agencies that Russia was behind the hacking of the Democratic Party.


Donald Trump is also trying to water down legislation imposing Russian sanctions for election interference that is up for consideration in the House after overwhelmingly passing in the Senate.

On Meet the Press, Graham described Trump's behavior as a betrayal of democracy that would be "empowering the Russians."

He added, "This whole idea about moving forward without punishing Russia is undercutting his entire presidency."

TODD: You have talked about this new Russian sanctions bill that passed through the Senate, 98-2, it is now in the House.

GRAHAM: Right.

TODD: Some say it's being stalled in the House. There's been reports, Trump administration's trying to water down the sanctions. You've said if he doesn't pass the Senate version, if he doesn't sign that bill, you said that he will be betraying the democracy. Is that your red line for working with President Trump?

GRAHAM: At the end of the day, the House needs to pass a bill. If you don't like our bill word for word, you can change it, but I'm not going to gut the bill. I am intent on punishing the Russians for interfering in our election. They did it in France, they're going to do it in Germany, they're doing it all over the world, they're doing it in the Balkan states, their neighbors, so I want a clear message to Russia that you'll pay the price for cutting our democracy. If President Trump doesn't embrace this, I think he will be empowering the Russians and betraying democracy. I can't say it any clearer than that.

His speech in Poland was terrific, that we as a nation are more secure when you have European democracies working jointly with us, that civilization needs to push back against ISIL, that Russia needs to stop. The speech was great, but this whole idea about moving forward without punishing Russia is undercutting his entire presidency.

Graham's admonishment of Trump is a deviation from the norm, as most Republicans have remained silent or even complicit as the administration continues to curry favor with Russia, at America's expense.

Republicans have continued to embrace his presidency, and have fought to avoid oversight of his entanglement with the Russian government.