Top GOP defense hawks are promising to give President-elect Donald Trump a hard time when it comes to the potential of overly close and personal ties with Russia.
GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, failed presidential candidate and long-time opponent of Trump, said possible Russian involvement in the presidential election must be vigorously investigated, even if such undue influence happens to benefit the Republican Party. The Obama administration has repeatedly stated that Russia was behind the email hacks of the Democratic National Committee and emails from Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
“We cannot sit on the sidelines as a party and let allegations against a foreign government interfering in our election process go unanswered because it may have been beneficial to our case for the moment,” Graham said, according to The Hill, adding he intends to be “a bit of a hard ass” when it comes to Russia.
GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona, close ally of Graham and chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, also joined in with a similar statement, urging Trump to avoid a “reset” of Russia-U.S. relations, like the failed reset former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pioneered during the Obama administration.
“We should place as much faith in such statements as any other made by a former KGB agent who has plunged his country into tyranny, murdered his political opponents, invaded his neighbors, threatened America’s allies and attempted to undermine America’s elections,” McCain said, speaking of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s trustworthiness.
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California also chimed in on the subject, but instead focused on Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the newly picked national security adviser for the upcoming Trump administration.
“I am deeply concerned about his views on Russia, which over the last 12 months have demonstrated the same fondness for the autocratic and belligerent Kremlin which animate President-elect Trump’s praise of Vladimir Putin,” Schiff said.
Flynn, who served as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014, attended an event in Moscow in 2015 to celebrate Russia Today, a Kremlin-backed news organization. Flynn has gone on record as advocating for the U.S. and Russia to work closely together to take out the Islamic State.
Despite criticism from several members of Congress, Trump appears willing to renew and repair relations with Putin. Following the announcement that Trump had won the 2016 presidential election, the Russian parliament applauded. Putin was one of the first leaders to give Trump a call after the election results were announced, but whether Trump’s generally warm statements about Putin actually translate into policy that benefits Russia remains to be seen.
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