US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham says nearly the entire Senate believes that Russia interfered in the November presidential election.
“There are 100 United States senators… I would say that 99 percent of us believe that the Russians did this, and we’re going to do something about it,” Graham told CNN on Tuesday.
“We’re going to have the hearings. We’re going to put sanctions together that hit [Russian President Vladimir] Putin as an individual and his inner circle for interfering in our election,” he said.
The US senator further claimed that the alleged meddling in the 2016 vote was not the only case worth prosecution, arguing Moscow’s practice is common across the world.
“It’s just not in our backyard. [Russia’s] 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.
Washington first publicly accused Moscow of a campaign of cyber operations against American political organizations in October but did not attribute motives at the time.
In the run-up to the November 8 face-off between GOP nominee Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, Washington claimed that some Democratic organizations were hacked by Russians in favor of Trump.
According to a Washington Post report, US intelligence agencies had identified individuals with alleged connection to the Russian government that had acted as part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and reduce his rival’s chances of winning.
While many Republican and Democratic politicians have voiced serious concern about the allegations, calling for an in-depth investigation, others have downplayed such claims, including Trump himself, who has dismissed the accusations and questioned the US intelligence community’s judgment. He has described the CIA report as “ridiculous,” alleging that his opponents are coming up with “excuses” to delegitimize his Electoral College victory, which did come as a surprise to many political observers.
Clinton herself has signaled that her loss was in large part because of severe damage done to her campaign with allegations that the former US secretary of state’s use of a private email account for top-level communication may have breached the law.