As the Obama administration prepares to announce retaliatory measures against Russia for hacking the U.S. election, Senator Lindsey Graham calls for tougher sanctions on Moscow and Senator John McCain calls Russia's Putin a “thug and a murderer”. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
+++ PLEASE NOTE AUDIO AS INCOMING +++ ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Prominent U.S. Republican Senators criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday (December 29) as the Obama administration prepared to announce a series of retaliatory measures against Russia for hacking into U.S. political institutions and individuals during the U.S. presidential election. Senator Lindsey Graham, who is traveling with Senator John McCain on a tour of Baltic states, called for sanctions against Russia to be widened to target areas like energy and to also be directly aimed at Putin. "Because nothing happens in Russia without his knowledge or approval," Graham said of Putin. McCain, who is chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, commented on a tweet by President-elect Donald Trump addressing the Russia sanctions in which he said "we ought to get on with our lives." McCain said he agreed but only if the U.S. could 'go on' without its elections being "affected by any outside influence". McCain also called President Putin "a thug and a murderer". The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency and Office of Director of National Intelligence agree that Russia was behind hacks into Democratic Party organizations and operatives ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election. There is also agreement, according to U.S. officials, that Russia sought to intervene in the election to help Trump, a Republican, defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. Russia has repeatedly denied hacking accusations. Trump has dismissed the assessments of the U.S. intelligence community.