Transcript for Sen. Lindsey Graham reacts to Trump-Russia investigation
senator Lindsey graham from the senate armed services committee. Thanks for joining us. You read that "The New York Times" report and you saw the president's tweet saying it is fake news. Members of the team have denied contacts with Russia during the campaign. How do you reconcile that with "The New York Times"? Well, number one, we're not going to make a decision based on what a newspaper says but now it's time for congress to up its game. Russia is interfering in the democratic process all over the world. They're actually funding some parties that are pro-Russian and some other democracies. They're trying to break the backbone of democracies. They did hack into podesta's e-mail. They did hack into the DNC. They did share that with wikileaks to interfere in our election. That, I believe. Now, here's the question. If there's contacts between the trump campaign and Russian intelligence officials outside the norm, that's not only big league bad, that's a game changer and I would change my view as to what congress should do. If they are contacts between trump officials and Russian intelligence operatives during the campaign, we need a joint select committee in congress to get to the bottom of it and also look at trump's business ties to Russia, if it is true. Well, "The New York Times" report is based on intercepted communications and they have -- they quote four intelligence officials, so you're prepared to go forward and call for that joint committee? I want to do a preliminary investigation where members of congress, myself and senator Whitehouse are over seeing the FBI's role in this. I want to make sure myself these intercepts exist, that the communications are outside the norm, if that's the case, it's time for the congress in my view the senate to do a joint select committee where we can look at it holistically, not in a compartmentalized way to get to the bottom of it. If it is true, it is very, very disturbing to me and Russia needs to pay a price when it comes to interfering in our democracy and other democracies and any trump person who was working with the Russians in an unacceptable way also needs to pay a price and maybe none of it's true but I can tell you this, the congress is not fake. There are real members of congress up here, Republicans and Democrats, who love our country and are going to make sure that checks and balances in place for 200 years work even when the president is in your own party. Your litany of charges against Russia raised by Tom Friedman says the biggest national security question staring us in the face, what is going on between Donald Trump and the Russians? What's your answer? Donald Trump is an outlier when it comes to the Russians. I do not know one Republican senator who believes that Russia is anything other than an enemy to democracy, that Russia has tried to interfere in our elections of 2016. I can't explain Donald Trump's view of Russia. Now, starting over, we've tried that twice. So the bottom line here is I'm not going to prejudge why he's the outlier. I'm going to try to find out what relationship his campaign had to the Russians, if any, and if there was a relationship there, then it begins to explain some of his behavior. Democrats are saying that in order to find out what's really going on you need Donald Trump's tax returns. Do you agree? Maybe so. The first thing I want to do is find out if there was any activity between the Russians and the trump campaign that was outside the norms of acceptable. If that's true we need to look into all things Russia when it comes to trump including his business ties to help explain where he's coming from. Maybe it's just a policy difference. It's okay for trump to disagree with Lindsey graham and other Republicans on how to handle Russia. It would not be okay to have the trump campaign receiving assistance from the Russians. That would be a game changer. Senator graham, thanks very much for joining us this morning. Thank you.
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