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US Senators Call for Sanctions on Russia in Election Hacking

  • VOA News

Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis (right) looks at US Sen. John McCain, (center left) during a press conference, Dec. 28, 2016, in Riga, Latvia, while Lindsey Graham, R-SC., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., stand in the background.

Key U.S. senators visiting eastern European allies have called for sanctions against Russia for interfering in the presidential election.

Senator Lindsey Graham said the U.S. Congress in 2017 will investigate Russia's involvement in the November 8 election that propelled businessman Donald Trump to power.

"I expect there will be bipartisan sanctions coming that will hit Russia hard, particularly ((President Vladimir)) Putin as an individual," Graham said, without elaborating. "It is now time for Russia to understand enough is enough," Graham said.

Senator Graham made his comments in Riga, Latvia as part of a wider tour of Russia's Baltic neighbors. Fellow Republican Senator John McCain also is on the trip, as is Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar.

“We have to sanction Russia for these cyberattacks (and) send a clear message to the incoming administration that there is a lot of bipartisan support in Congress for going after this,” Klobuchar, told The Associated Press.

Russia denies allegations

Moscow has denied allegations that President Putin was personally involved in hacking that cost Trump's opponent, Democrat and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the election.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the Obama administration could announce as soon as this week measures to punish Russia for election interference. U.S. officials told the newspaper the measures could include economic sanctions and diplomatic censure.

Thomas Graham is managing director of New York-based consulting firm Kissinger Associates and served on the National Security Council during the administration of President George W. Bush. In an interview with VOA's Russian service, he questioned reports connecting Russia to the release of information that might have influenced the election.

"Without seeing the underlying intelligence, it's hard to know with any degree of confidence whether Russia was ultimately behind it or not," he said. "And it's certainly very difficult to know whether President Putin, sitting in the Kremlin, directed all of that."

While not ruling out Russia, he added, "I would keep my mind open in saying there may be other countries or individuals behind releasing this information."

Trump unconvinced

Trump has consistently maintained that last month's election was free of any Russian meddling. Questions are still unanswered about how Russian hackers obtained emails from Clinton's campaign and published them via WikiLeaks in the closing stretch of the campaign, in an apparent attempt to influence the election in Trump's favor.

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told VOA, "It's pretty clear that Russia was involved in this past election and collected data from both sides, but released data for one side only in an effort to skew the election." President Barack Obama has ordered the intelligence community to conduct a full review of the allegations.

VOA's Russian Service contributed to this report; Some information came from AP

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