Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham on Tuesday said he is “1,000% confident” that Russia, not Ukraine, meddled in the 2016 US presidential election, breaking from President Donald Trump and others in his party who have pushed the discredited conspiracy theory.
“It was the Russians. I’m 1,000% confident that the hack of the DNC was by Russian operatives, no one else,” the South Carolina senator told reporters on Capitol Hill.
He reiterated his stance to CNN saying, “I’ve got no doubt that it was the Russians who stole the DNC emails. It wasn’t Ukraine. Russia was behind the stolen DNC emails and (John) Podesta and all that good stuff.”
Graham continued later in the same interview: “So as to the Ukraine, they had zero to do with the hacking of the DNC and the stealing of the emails. Whether or not people from the Ukraine met with DNC operatives, I don’t know. All I’ve seen is press reports that no one has validated.”
His comments come as the impeachment probe into Trump and Ukraine moves into the next phase. The House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released its report detailing how the President sought political gain through his dealings with Ukraine. The House Judiciary Committee will hold its first impeachment hearing on Wednesday.
Graham, a staunch defender of Trump, has criticized the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry. The President and his allies have insisted that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 presidential election to help then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
US intelligence officials have told lawmakers that Russia has been engaging in a years-long effort to shift the blame of Moscow’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election to Ukraine, a message that was echoed during public testimony by Trump’s former top Russia adviser Fiona Hill and other witnesses in the impeachment probe.
CNN’s Ted Barrett, Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb contributed to this report.