U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham had sharp criticism for President Donald Trump for “forgiving and forgetting” Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, calling Trump’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin during the G20 Summit “disastrous.”
“He gave a really good speech in Poland ... and he had what I think is a disastrous meeting with President Putin,” Graham, R-South Carolina, said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“Two hours and 15 minutes of meetings, (Secretary of State Rex Tillerson) and Trump are ready to forgive and forget when it comes to cyberattacks on the American election in 2016,” he said.
Trump’s meeting with Putin came during the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. In a series of tweets Sunday morning, Trump said he “strongly pressed” Putin twice about Russian meddling in the U.S. election, and Putin “vehemently denied it.”
More, Trump said in additional tweets, he and Putin discussed the U.S. and Russia working together on a cybersecurity unit to prevent election hacking and “many other negative things.”
“It’s not the dumbest idea I’ve heard but it’s pretty close,” Graham said Sunday.
Graham, who co-chairs a Senate panel looking into Russian cyberattacks targeting Democratic campaign officials, lauded Trump’s efforts in other national security issues but said Russia continues to be “a blind spot,” criticizing the president’s refusal to say Russia meddled in the U.S. election.
“He understands the world pretty damn well except for Russia,” Graham said. “Mr. President, you’re hurting your ability to govern this nation by forgiving and forgetting when it comes to Russia, and actually empowering a nemesis of democracy – Putin. I just don’t get it.”
Graham’s comments came after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said in a pre-recorded interview for CNN’s “State of the Union” that “everybody knows that Russia meddled in our elections.”
“Everybody knows that they’re not just meddling in the United States’ elections,” the former South Carolina governor told CNN’s Dana Bash. “They’re doing this across multiple continents.”