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Lindsey Graham at Raucous Town Hall: 'Punish' Putin for Meddling in Election

Image: Lindsey Graham at Raucous Town Hall: 'Punish' Putin for Meddling in Election
Sen. Lindsey Graham addresses a South Carolina town hall audience on Saturday. (AP)

By    |   Saturday, 25 Mar 2017 05:24 PM

Sen. Lindsey Graham said Saturday that Russia needed to be "punished" for its involvement in the presidential election — telling constituents at a town hall in South Carolina that "I've been more than on the case when it comes to Russia."

"I have stood up for the idea that I'm not going to sit on the sidelines and wait for the Russians to try to undermine our democracy," the three-term Republican said at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center in the Palmetto State's capital city.

Graham called Russian President Vladimir Putin "a crook and thug.

"He's trying to break the back of NATO, the European Union — and he tried to interfere with our election. Don't you think we should push back?"

The crowd cheered.

Graham said he has legislation pending that would slap stronger economic sanctions on Moscow — and he called for it to be approved before elections take place in France and Germany later this year.

"I hope to pass that bill and put it on President [Donald] Trump's desk in September to punish the Russians so they won't do it again," he said.

In a wide-ranging session, Graham also slammed Obamacare — and talked about the failed GOP bill to replace it — while also attacking the heads of the House Intelligence Committee for their actions this week in their investigation of possible ties between Trump campaign associates and Moscow.

He also was booed for declaring his unequivocal support for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and vowed to back the "nuclear option" to break any Democratic filibuster.

"Judge Gorsuch was one of the finest people, I think, President Trump could have chosen," Graham said as the crowd booed. "I'm going to enthusiastically support him — and if the Democrats try to filibuster him, they will be making a huge mistake.

"Let me tell you a little bit about the judge," he continued as the opposition grew louder. "You don't want to listen?"

Graham then discussed the nominee's record and his endorsement by the American Bar Association, as well as his previous votes for Justices Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

"To everybody that boos Judge Gorsuch, you're not persuading me at all," the senator declared. "If you can't understand that this is a qualified nominee, then you're not listening.

"If you don't understand that elections matter, then you don't understand America," he added. "If you think that only liberals can get their nominees and a conservative can't, then you don't understand America."

On the FBI investigation on possible ties between Moscow and the Trump campaign, Graham said that "it goes wherever it goes.

"No politician should stand in the way. We should let the FBI do their job — and what happens is what happens."

However, he slammed the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee — Republican Chairman Devin Nunes and ranking Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, both of California — for their actions on their own probe.

"The House Intel Committee is about to fall apart," Graham said. "I don't know if they can get it back together. I hope they can.

"I didn't like it when Nunes went down to the White House and started talking about things I'm not familiar with. I didn't like it when Schiff keeps telling everybody there is evidence, circumstantial in nature, that there is collusion.

"That's really not the appropriate function of either one of these guys," he said. "I hope they can get it back together."

Graham ripped Obamacare as a system that is about to collapse from skyrocketing premiums and deductibles for middle-class Americans, while "somebody else is getting it for free.

"That ain't healthcare reform."

But neither is the American Health Care Act, which President Trump ordered pulled from a second House floor on Friday because of strong Republican opposition, he said.

"If the House had passed that bill, I'm not so sure it would have made things much better," he said. "The process was not what I wanted it to be.

"Does it sound familiar that people were being threatened to vote 'yes'? Some people being bribed to vote 'yes.'

"Sounds a lot like Obamacare to me," Graham said, referring to the intense lobbying by the Obama administration in 2010 to get the Affordable Care Act passed. "That's why I didn't like it."

That was met with more boos from the crowd.

"I don't think one party is going to be able to fix this by themselves," Graham continued. "I think the president should reach out to Democrats.

"I should reach out to Democrats — and we should say, 'Let's take a shot at doing this together.'

"Because it ain't working doing it by ourselves."

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Sen. Lindsey Graham said Saturday that Russia needed to be "punished" for its involvement in the presidential election - telling constituents at a town hall in South Carolina that "I've been more than on the case when it comes to Russia.""I have stood up for the idea that...
Lindsey Graham, town hall, punish, Putin, election
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2017-24-25
Saturday, 25 Mar 2017 05:24 PM
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