A bipartisan delegation of US senators on Sunday pressed Donald Trump to punish Russia over its alleged interference in the US election race and warned that Moscow’s next targets will be elections in France and Germany. Speaking at the Munich security conference, Republican senator Lindsey Graham, who is a member of the Senate armed services committee, expressed confidence that Congress will pass sanctions against Russia. “2017 is going to be the year of kicking Russian ass in Congress,” he said. The US intelligence agencies claim the Kremlin ordered hackers to infiltrate the Democratic National Committee in the run-up to November’s presidential elections. Trump’s response has been ambiguous, initially rejecting the intelligence assessment and later admitting that Russia might have been behind it. Graham predicted that sanctions against Russia will be backed by more than 75 senators in the 100-member chamber. Such a move would pose a dilemma for Trump, who is seeking rapprochement with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
The senator, who is one of the most vocal Republican critics of the president, said his goal was to put the sanctions approved by Congress on Trump’s desk. “I hope he’ll embrace the idea that as the leader of the free world he should be working with us to punish Russia.” Graham added that his “biggest concern with President Trump is that he’s never really looked the camera in the eye and said they’re going to pay a price on my watch for trying to interfere in our election”.
Graham and Democratic senators Chris Murphy and Jeanne Shaheen were speaking on the last day of the three-day Munich conference, which brought together government leaders, foreign and defence ministers and other politicians from around the world.
The chairman of the Senate armed services committee, Republican John McCain, who is part of the delegation, delivered a blistering attack on Trump’s values on Friday.