Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain might finally be doing something useful in the Senate.
WASHINGTON ― Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Tuesday said he wants Senate hearings to investigate whether Russian President Vladimir Putin interfered in the U.S. election, casting doubts on President-elect Donald Trump’s desire to improve relations with Russia.
“Assuming for a moment that we do believe that the Russian government was controlling outside organizations that hacked into our election, they should be punished,” Graham told reporters on Capitol Hill. “Putin should be punished.” […]
Graham’s friend, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), also cautioned against Trump’s steps toward Russia.
“With the U.S. presidential transition underway, Vladimir Putin has said in recent days that he wants to improve relations with the United States,” McCain said in a statement on Tuesday. “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.”
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Corker is decidedly less concerned, saying that basically this happens all the time. Sure, Russia interfered in the election. That was obvious. But: "In the world of covert activities, countries, large sophisticated countries do things against each other to understand what’s happening within those countries. I think people who have been around for awhile understand that’s what happens," he said on MSNBC. Oh, but there's more:
Intelligence officials believe Russia is responsible for hacking the emails of the Democratic National Committee as part of an effort to influence the election results. Russia has also been linked to hacking emails belonging to John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. Despite this, Corker said the effort to interfere had “backfired” because the election appeared to be rigged for Clinton but Donald Trump won.
Um, Bob. You got that kind of backwards—they were trying to rig it for your guy. So it's not entirely clear that there will be hearings, at least not in Corker's committee. Relatedly, Corker has been floated as a possible secretary of state in the Trump administration and says he's "in the mix" for the post. So, yeah, he's not going to be too concerned about how this all came to be.
The upside in all of this is that Graham and McCain might use their hawkishness for good, for once, to block the Trump administration where they can. Maybe.